Debut Album

Great Debut Albums: Weezer- Weezer (Blue)

71nYpz++VCL._SL1400_.jpg

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.

 

Weezer- The Blue Album:

Advertisements

Great Debut Albums: Silverchair- Frogstomp

71Orao9tmZL._SL1500_.jpg

I know I keep going back to the 90’s but, it truly was a magical time. Just like the 60’s and 70’s for our parents (well most of ours), the 90’s was a revolution musically for a generation and then some. The sheer amount of groundbreaking and legendary albums from this time is astounding. The legacies that those bands have to this day are beyond what many of them ever expected and the influence and inspiration that those bands and albums have had on countless other bands, well, that’s the gift. There was a band that came out during this time, made up of three teenagers that really left a mark. That band was Silverchair and their debut album Frogstomp, was quite the exceptional record and one that, to this day, still excites people.

Recorded in 9 days in December 1994, Frogstomp would go on to put Silverchair on the map. At the time of recording, Daniel Johns (vocals/guitar), Ben Gillies (drums) and Chris Joannou (bass) were all 15 years old. John’s would later comment on the recording “The songwriting might not be genius, but I think sonically, the performances are really good. It’s really honest; it’s just three Australian kids thrashing it out in the studio and that’s exactly how it sounds.” I couldn’t agree more. Some critics wrote the band off as Nirvana/Pearl Jam wannabes but, they were not some flash in the pan copycat band. These kids had depth and substance to what they were writing. The song “Tomorrow” is a great example of the power and intensity they had. I will admit, when I first heard this song, I thought it was Pearl Jam but, after it was done and they announced who it was, I knew I had to go buy the album. Rolling Stone magazine’s David Fricke had said about the album  “Truly shameless wanna-be’s like Bush should be so lucky to have the hard smarts that Silverchair – particularly the band’s main writers, singer-guitarist Daniel Johns and drummer Ben Gillies – show on such Frogstomp-ers as “Pure Massacre” and “Israel’s Son.” When these guys turn 18, they’ll really be dangerous.” Which is quite interesting because by the time they were 18/19, they had released Neon Ballroom, and that album is an Unsung Masterpiece.

Frogstomp is to this day one hell of an album. Everything from the songs, tones, style, grit, and so much more have made this an everlasting album. Songs like “Israel’s Son,” “Pure Massacre,” “Tomorrow,” Shade,” “Suicidal Dream,” “Findaway,” and “Leave Me Out” have stood the test of time and continue to influence and inspire. One of the songs that always grabbed me besides the ones above was the instrumental track “Madman.” The energy of this track is exhilarating and I’ve always wondered what the lyrics and vocals would have been for this song.

This album laid the groundwork for what was to come for this three piece. The strong songwriting ability of Johns along with the powerful tenacity of Gillies and Joannou made this band what it was. If it were anyone else, this band wouldn’t sound the way they did. Throughout their career, they would constantly push themselves to get better and mature. And they did with Freak Show, Neon Ballroom and Diorama. Their album Young Modern, was a strong departure from what the band once was but, it still showed how great of a band they were. Now, if only they would get back together and celebrate what they created, that would be amazing.

Silverchair- Frogstomp:

Great Debut Albums: Mudvayne- LD 50

3934617d4e4349e9b845ad9f02fd6d19.png

Back in the year 2000, there was an album that was released that left a mark on heavy music at the time. We all know about the albums by Korn, Deftones, Slipknot and more. Those bands really left a lasting impression with their debuts and helped steer the course of the heavy music genre. The album and the band that I’d like to delve into is Mudvayne and the album I’m speaking about is their debut album L.D. 50.

After releasing their Kill, I Oughtta EP, Mudvyane signed to No-Name Records/Epic Records. Their debut for the label would be produced by Garth “GGGarth” Richardson (Rage Against The Machine, The Melvins). Recording took place up in Vancouver, Canada. The recording process for the album was excutively produced by Steve Richards (No-Name Records/Management) and Shawn Crahan aka Clown aka #6 of Slipknot. The sessions for L.D. 50 would prove to be very intensive. The band would be working around the clock as Garth Richardson ran a very tight ship. There were a couple songs that weren’t completed till the 11th hour like “Nothing To Gein” and “Pharmaecopia.” Stylistically, L.D. 50 was much more than just your run of the mill heavy record. Mudvayne incorporated a lot of different styles including death metal, hardcore punk, speed metal, prog rock and bits of jazz. Critics began referring to the bands as “Math Metal” due to their intricate time signatures.

 

L.D. 50 is one of those albums that still holds up to this day and is still praised by fans of the band and genre. For example the song “Dig” is still one of those songs when you hear it today, you can’t help but get excited. Plus the scream of vocalist Chad Gray in the beginning has become a sort of legendary scream. The video for “Dig” also won the MTV2 Awards for best video. Other songs that have always stood out to me on this record include “Internal Primates Forever,” “-1” “Death Blooms,” (which is my favorite song on the album. And when I saw them live many moons ago, this song was so damn good live), “Cradle,” Nothing to Gein,” “Severed,” “Pharmaecopia,” and “(K)now F(orever).” The album itself feels like an album. The songs are separated by interludes that pull all the songs together. These interludes also provide an extra amount of atmosphere that is needed to break up the pummeling of riffs and rhythms.

 

L.D. 50 was more than just a “metal” record. It was also a showcase of how talented each individual in the band is and how well they worked together. Drummer Matt McDonough and bassist Ryan Martinie are an absolute force of a rhythm section.  Guitarist Greg Tribbett had a knack for writing interesting riffs to compliment the off time of Matt and Ryan. The three of them working together created something that has stood the test of time. Then when you add vocalist Chad Gray into the mix it all comes together. Chad’s lyrics and vocal delivery on this album were superb. His ability to go all out guttural with his screams and then quickly deliver genuine melodic vocals was stunning, especially on “Death Blooms.”

This album is a classic among the albums released since the turn of the century. If you ever read the comments section on any music news site that Mudvayne is mentioned in, you’ll most definitely read a slew of comments of fans of L.D. 50. It’s one of those albums that people pine for due to the rawness and aggression. Just like fans of bands like Metallica pine for the sound of their first 4 albums. It’s a shame that Mudvayne isn’t around at the moment. They were always a top notch live band. Their follow up albums seem to be hit or miss with a lot of their fans but, there are still some very excellent songs among those. I personally really dig on the follow up to L.D. 50, The End Of All Things To Come as well as their “final” album which is technically untitled. I genuinely hope that the four of them can put away any ill will and get back to making great tunes again as Mudvayne. Until then, at least we still have the music and the great debut album in L.D. 50.

 

 

Mudvayne- L.D. 50:


Mudvayne Accepting the MTV2 Award at the VMA’s:

 

Great Debut Albums: Oasis- Definitely Maybe

 

 

DefinitelyMaybeOasis2PR200712-1.jpg

It always seems to go back to 1994. That year is like a fine aged wine or a wonderful scotch, there is just something magical about 1994. We all know how many legendary albums came out at this time but, there is one that is often overlooked. The album I’m talking about is Oasis’s, Definitely Maybe. When you have songs like “Supersonic,”Rock N Roll Star,” and “Live Forever,” on your debut album, not only are you going to hit it out of the park but also really leave a lasting mark. Definitely Maybe is often regarded as “the” album that started the “Brit-Pop” movement. The songs on the album were all written by Noel Gallagher, and he really cemented his legacy with these songs. The album is full of classic rock n roll, pop, glam, and a bit of psychedelia. There really isn’t a bad song on this record. “Shakermaker,” “Up In The Sky,” “Bring It On Down,” “Cigarettes And Alcohol,” and “Slide Away” have always been the deeper cuts that have stood out to me. Noel’s songs really came to life courtesy of the band as a whole. Liam Gallagher’s voice put the guts in to the songs. Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs and Noel’s guitar work really added a brightness and edge to the record. The rhythm section of Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan on bass and Tony McCarroll on drums gave the album the pulse and heartbeat.
Something else about Definitely Maybe that stands out is that this album was a beacon of light in the music world. Before this album, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were dominating the airwaves. Those bands vibes and realism made a deep connection to those out there that were looking for something, lost or feeling helpless. Oasis addressed those elements but provided a sense of living and fun. The Gallagher brothers antics alone helped to usher in this new sense of life.
Definitely Maybe is and always will be one of the best debut albums. A lot of people think that this was the bands pinnacle but, that just isn’t the case. If you take the time to delve into the Oasis catalog you will find that this band is truly great. Noel Gallagher is one of the most underrated and prolific songwriters of all time. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes out of your day and let Definitely Maybe start your day off right.

 

Oasis- Definitely Maybe:

 

 

Album Review: Bad Wolves- Disobey

 

 

29542361_1647143995374541_742130093328597816_n.jpg

There are people out there that want to say rock is dead. Well it’s not and never will be. In this day and age you just have to search for it since the radio waves are pretty much all crappy pop and wannabe hip hop. Thankfully there are a few bands that are making an impact at radio and making people wake up to the fact that rock music is still alive and well. Bad Wolves are one of those bands and they have really taken the music world by storm. Back in 2017 they released their first song “Learn To Live” and that created a strong buzz about the band. Then in early 2018 they released their cover of The Cranberries classic “Zombie” and from that point they have been on fire.

(more…)

Album Anniversary: Garbage- Self Titled

112561_1_f

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

Album Review: Black Map- …And We Explode

a2415318828_10

I’ve talked a lot about Black Map. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live a handful of times, and even interviewed them. So it comes with great pride that I review their debut album …And We Explode. This album is full of heavy riffs, pounding drums, pulsating bass, and vocals that soar above the rest of their peers. The use of melody and structures really plays a big hand in making this a great album. It’s really not every day that you can put on an album from start to finish and truly grasp each note, and word. Ben Flanagan’s crystal clear melodic voice really takes the songs to another level while Mark Engles guitar breaks through with sonic heaviness, not to mention the fiery drum performances from Chris Robyn. My favorite songs from the album so far are “Chinasaki,” “I’m Just The Driver,” “And We Explode (part 1).” “Melee,” “Gemini,” “Ropes,” Black Map are the perfect band to help usher back rock music to the masses. I can’t wait to see where they go next. This album is worth a purchase as is a ticket to their shows. So do yourself a favor and check it out!

Scale of 1-10: 9

Black Map- …And We Explode

http://www.blackmapmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/blackmapmusic

By: Brian Lacy