It’s always fun to take songs of the same name and put them on back to back and contemplate about which one is better. There are so many of them out there and some are definitely better than some. One that I did recently were the songs “Sin” by Nine Inch Nails from Pretty Hate Machine and by Stone Temple Pilots on their album Core. Now these are both totally different but are quite good songs. The NIN one will always take the top prize for me. “Sin” the NIN version is in my top 10 all time favorite NIN songs.
Nine Inch Nails 2007 album Year Zero is a true Unsung Masterpiece. It’s one hell of an album. The concept behind it is super eerie when you think about what has been happening to society and government over the years. The first single from the album, “Survivalism” is tremendous. The lyrical content along with the pulsating beat are so damn good. The video for the song is on a whole other level. At the end of 2007, Rolling Stone readers voted the video as the best music video of year. Directed by Trent Reznor, Rob Sheridan and Alex Lieu, the video consists of a series of images from a console of secret cameras installed in an apartment block. As the camera moves between the footage, viewers are able to see into the lives of a number of residents, including:
A catatonic older couple watching television with a portrait of Jesus behind them.
A man looking after his drugged spouse (and in one scene possibly dripping or injecting the fictional drug “opal” in her eyes).
Two men having sexual intercourse in bed. (Covered by the US Bureau of Morality image in the TV edit.)
A topless woman applying make-up in a bathroom. (Covered by the US Bureau of Morality image in the TV edit.)
A man sitting at a table staring at his food.
Three men in a shop (and later in an alley) working with stencils.
A man in his cubicle surfing the Internet on his laptop computer.
Nine Inch Nails performing the song in a room.
There’s so much more to this video. Each time you watch it, you find something else that was hidden in there and a bit subliminal. Nine Inch Nails videos are some of the best you’ll see.
As far back as I can remember I’ve had a disdain for pop music. There way it’s all manufactured and put together really drives me nuts, especially in the last 20 years. The word artist gets used way too much in pop music when these people are glorified performers rather than true artists. Though, along the way, there are a few that have been able to carve their own paths and stray away from the generic norms of the pop world. A couple years back my friend played a song for me without telling me anything about it. After the song was over, I quite intrigued by it. The song was “Nightmare” by Halsey and it was great. There was something different about her and I had to know more. Fast forward to now and the release of her new album, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, and now I can’t get enough.
If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is a tour de force of an album. Having Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross producing and at the helm, has escalated Halsey into a whole other realm. In a recent interview, Halsey had mentioned that working with Trent Reznor had been a dream of hers for years. Speaking on the direction of the album, Halsey said, “I wanted really cinematic sort of, not horror specifically, but kind of just really unsettling production.” Working with Trent and Atticus has brought in a real element of danger into the fold and genre bending to the pop world. When you listen to this album, you can hear Halsey in her natural element.
This album is unique in that there is not really any “hits” on it. There are catchy chorus’s and elements that are hooks but, it’s definitely not what you expect. There is an intensity and vulnerability throughout the album that radiates and burns ever so bright. Each song brings has it’s own identity. The deep exploratory personal lyrics permeate throughout. The conceptual elements of the album tie it all together in a way that most pop “artists” would shy away from but not Halsey. Instead, this is a head first dive into the psyche and realizations of someone who has finally found a sense of bliss and happiness through all the madness. The gothic undertones along with industrial tinges, atmospheric sounds, mixed with live instrumentation (something that is greatly missing from pop music) and soaring raw vocals, makes for one hell of a listening experience. There are so many songs on this album that I enjoy. At the moment, “Tradition,” “Easier Than Lying,” “You Asked For This,” “Honey,” “I’m Not A Woman. I’m A God,” and “The Lighthouse” are my favorite tracks. I would go in depth on them but, as I’ve said on other reviews, I don’t want to give or take anything away from your own listening experience.
If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is one of the best albums of 2021. It offers something new in a genre that has grown stale, boring and predictable. By having Trent and Atticus come aboard and direct this album and bring out all these things to the pop world, will hopefully shift a change for the good. The production is similar in some spots to Trent and Atticus’s How To Destroy Angels project as well as incorporating elements they’ve learned from their film scoring career. The album also features some real heavy hitters like Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters (plays on Honey), Lindsay Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac (plays on Darling) Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio (plays on You Asked For This), and Pino Paladino (plays on Lilith). Halsey has made an album that not only can she be proud of but, can look back 20 years from now and it will be looked at as a game changer for pop music. If more pop artists were like Halsey and were willing to try new things outside the box and show this side of themselves, there could be a whole new revolution within pop music.
This one is definitely out of left field one for some of you but, this new album by Halsey is quite remarkable. Her new album, If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power is a tour de force of so many emotions. The album was produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and features Halsey at her most vulnerable yet. This is the way pop artists should evolve. You can tell that this collaboration between Halsey, Trent and Atticus is a modern match made in heaven. One listen all the way through the album and you will instantly start it again because you want to go back to all the things you might have missed. This is one hell of an album and it should be noted as such. A full review will come next week but, until then, enjoy this album.
Well this was a welcome surprise. Danny Elfman AND Trent Reznor on a track together?!?!?! YES PLEASE!! This song is a remix of sorts of the song “True” from Elfman’s album, Big Mess. Speaking on the collaboration, Danny said “This is the first duet/collaboration I’ve ever done in my life, so to do it with Trent was a real surprise and a treat,” Elfman explained in a statement. “He’s always been a big inspiration to me, not to mention he has one of my all-time favourite singing voices.” Well, the results are excellent and this song sounds even better now.
Back in 2009, Nine Inch Nails announced a series of shows to sort of say goodbye for the time being. It was a very bittersweet thing to hear but, as a fan for many many many years, it made sense. Before the shows were announced, Nine Inch Nails spent the summer on the road with Jane’s Addiction (with all the original members). That was origianlly supposed to be the end but, seeing as Nine Inch Nails would be playing at different times and under the backdrop of a sunset many a times, it just didn’t feel quite right for that to be the end. Instead, a series of shows were announced in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. I was lucky enough to attend 3 of the 4 Los Angeles shows. The final one was at The Wiltern and what a show it was. Over 3 hours (yes, THREE HOURS) of nonstop Nine Inch Nails at it’s absolute finest. The setlist was utterly perfect and beyond emotional. Thankfully too, there were a group of fans in the audience that night filming it all and they put together one of the best live shows I’ve ever been to. Without giving anything away, I highly recommend you taking the time to watch/listen to this show!
It is no secret that Nine Inch Nails is my favorite band. I’ve spent many many days, nights and years, delving deep into the catalog. When you take a real close listen to a lot of the songs and the order they were placed in on the albums, you really get to feel the vibe. For example, The Fragile (my all time favorite NIN album and favorite album EVER), on disc 2 (better known as the right disc), there is an instrumental song called “The Mark Has Been Made” that is a wonderful almost segue into the next song “Please.” This instrumental is a beast live too. Take a moment and let this one sink into your head!
This past year has been quite a ride. Through all the craziness though, a couple good things have been able to happen. For example, with all the time and working from home, I’ve been able to delve back into albums I haven’t listened to in a while. And within that, I’ve been able to show my young daughter some really great tunes and videos. One of which is this great video from How To Destroy Angels for the song “The Space In Between.” The video, directed by Rupert Sanders (who is primarily known for creating video game advertisements) is a very dark and interesting video that harks back to the days when videos were great. This is one hell of a great video and should be viewed a lot more!!
A couple days ago there was a huge David Bowie celebration. Tons of artists took part in this by performing Bowie’s songs. A good portion of these performances were accompanied by Mike Garson, David’s longtime piano player. Among the people performing on this night were, Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan, Dave Navarro, Ian Astbury, Gavin Rossdale, Corey Taylor, Taylor Hawkins and so many more. I saw a few of these performances floating around and there were 2 that really stood out to me. It’s no surprise that the ones Trent Reznor performed were my favorite. He picked “Fantastic Voyage” from Bowie’s album, Lodger as well as “Fashion” from Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). He was joined by Mike Garson and Atticus Ross on both songs along with his wife Mariqueen on the latter. Both of these turned out great. I do have to say that Trent’s dance moves during “Fashion” are quite fun to watch.
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):