Archive | November, 2011

1092

30 Nov

Last year, I was writing a blog called Audioshards and to start it, I wrote up a list of my ten favorite bands. There was Made Out of Babies, AFI, Rasputina, Concrete Blonde and others. What the list lacked was Placebo. Looking back, that was a mistake. There are few bands in the world that have consistantly put out music with the quality that Placebo has. From their rocked out first album to the brilliance of Battle For The Sun, Placebo has put out song after song that I have loved. I looked through their discography today and found myself immediately singing along to songs like “Nancy Boy”, “Infra-Red” and “Every Me, Every You”.

The latter of those songs was on the “Without You, I’m Nothing” album which was released 2 days before my birthday in 1998. I’ve heard Placebo speak of this album and complain that it’s got too many slow songs for a 2nd album. While, it does have a lot of slow songs. It has rockers with a hell of a lot of punch. Songs like “Brick Shithouse” and “Scared of Girls” are power packed. Meanwhile, the song I picked for today is straight up Nirvana done Placebo style. That “Smells Like Teen Spirit”/ “More Than a Feeling” 4 chord crunch gets another twist when in the hands of Placebo. They add in a steady bassline and some wild guitar work to make it truly their own. It’s one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands.

Song 1092: “Allergic (to Thoughts of Mother Earth)” by Placebo

For more Placebo, check out posts #60, 105, 408, 610, 731, 927, 928, 929, 930 & 931!

1091

29 Nov

We have arrived at 1997 and there is this mega beast that has taken over the world. It’s a mighty five headed creature that attacked the world with catchy pop songs and a plethora of merchandise. It even had a movie. I’m talking about the Spice Girls. Was I a fan back then? Nope. I found Geri Halliwell to be quite fetching back then but not much Spice Girls enjoyment beyond that. I couldn’t stand “Wannabe” and that “2 become 1” song was absolutely atrocious in my opinion. So, when they came out with the Spice World album in 2007, I prepared for the worst. It was going to be another radio blitz full of songs I really didn’t want to hear. Then much to my surprise, they released a song that I could stand. Not only could I stand it, there was a song by the Spice Girls that I liked. Being a rocker, back then it was like a secret shame. But I’m older now and I can appreciate the workings of a pop song. I grew up on pop songs and there is nothing wrong with a song just being enjoyable without being a technical masterpiece. I’m still nowhere near a fan of the band but I can admit freely, I do like this one song:

Song 1091: “Spice Up Your Life” by The Spice Girls

Also of note, I have added a new page to the blog. It’s a convenient list of all the songs I have done in the blog so far. Check it out.

1090

28 Nov

When it came to seeing concerts I was a little late to the dance. Other than Hot Tuna playing at my junior high school, I had never gone to a concert until 1995. I may have waited a long time but I started off strong with a PJ Harvey show. And to make it even better, the opening band was Tricky. I was amazed by Tricky. My sister worked at his record company and I got the CD before the show and loved the sound. It mixed soul with alternative while using samples and male/female vocal interplay. There was so much going on and all of it pulling from different musical inspirations. I didn’t know what to expect when it came to the performance. What I saw was mindblowing. It was the loudest thing I had ever heard it my life (and for quite a long time I kept that belief) and it was so aggressive and primal.

Somehow, I completely missed Tricky’s 2nd album (honestly, I didn’t know about the Nearly God album until about 15 minutes ago). But I didn’t miss his third- Pre Millennium Tension, which was released shortly after my birthday in November of 1996. Again, I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t disappointed. I came across the first single while watching late night MTV and was overtaken by the beat. It was based around a guitar riff playing over a Doug E. Fresh sample. Then came in some crazy soundscaping before Tricky & Martina Topley-Bird begin their interplay. No piece is overly complex but when put together, the result is tremendous. Here is a live video of the song. I know there’s a music video but Tricky puts on a great performance.

Song 1090- “Christiansands” by Tricky

1089

27 Nov

In our musical time travel, we have reached Niveous, age 18. I’m in college, working in theater, and making lots more music. What came out around my birthday that year (1995)? This theme has taught me one big thing… fate seems to place noteworthy album such before November. In 1995, October brought albums like “Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness” & “Smells Like Children”. At first, I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t be writing about either of those albums, both which had some significance to me at the time. But then, I realized that November 1995 brought one hell of an album, with a cover with a picture of a three legged dog.

The grunge era may have lost steam by this time with Kurt Cobain’s passing and Pearl Jam battling Ticketmaster and not making videos. And soon it would be dealt another heavy blow with the passing of Layne Staley, but not before Alice in Chains would put out their third album- the self titled one with the dog on the cover. It was a great follow up to the Jar of Flies EP. Jar of Flies showed that the band was going in a different direction with their music. They were learning their craft and growing. The leap from the gritty plodding “Man in The Box” to the melodic yet still chilling “Heaven Beside You” was momentous. I could only imagine where the band would’ve gone next.

Song 1089- “Heaven Beside You” by Alice in Chains

1088

26 Nov

I’m amazed at how much a person can grow and change over time. This current theme, music of my birthdays, has shown me so much about the passage of time. For instance, look at 5 posts ago. That post was 1989 and I was just finding my way as music lover. Fast forward to today’s post- 1994. I’m like a totally different person. November 1994 was my 17th birthday. By this time, I’m finishing up high school, have already met the woman who would be the mother of my children, and have begun playing music. I wasn’t calling myself Niveous yet but I was beginning to songwrite much more and trying to find my sound. It was around this time that I made a big decision when it came to my music- i was going acoustic.

I may have had an electric guitar but there was something about acoustic guitars that I loved. Part of this decision certainly must have come from the time period as MTV Unplugged was still going strong. I was a fan of the show and enjoyed the stripped down reworkings of songs. 1993 had brought great episodes like Stone Temple Pilots (with Scott Weiland sitting a throne and belting out “Big Empty”) and 10,000 Maniacs (with their killer cover of “Because the Night”). Probably the most well known Unplugged was recorded in November 1993 and released around my birthday a year later: Nirvana Unplugged. For a burgeoning acoustic guitarist, this album was a goldmine. Not every Unplugged was a home run. Anytime I hear the Alice in Chains or the Eric Clapton episodes, I cringe. But the sounds of the Nirvana unplugged were amazing. Whether it be them howling their way through a Meat Puppets song or pouring emotion into an old Leadbelly tune; this album showed Nirvana’s depth in a way that their studio albums sometimes missed. And as a musician, I wanted to create moments like that. The arrangements weren’t complex but the performances were so powerful and they kept the audience entranced.

Picking one song from that album is tough. And much to my surprise, I have never picked a song from that album as a song of the day before. I think I’m going to go with the David Bowie cover. Back in 1993/94, I hadn’t heard the Bowie version yet, so to me this was Nirvana’s song and I thought it was exceptional. (It would probably be another year before I heard the Bowie version. Both have their own merit)

Song 1088: “The Man Who Sold The World” by Nirvana

1087

25 Nov

Last night, I talked about the 1992 debut of Rage Against the Machine and how aggressive the sound was. 1993 trumped that easily with the debut of the Wu Tang Clan. Now, it’s minutes to midnight, so I don’t have much time nor do I really have much to say. Being a New Yorker, Wu Tang Clan was a part of my growing up. I properly felt their impact more as their brand grew and they spread out, did solo albums and produced one hell of a fighting game. But back in 1993, you couldn’t turn on a show like Video Music Box without coming across “C.R.E.A.M.” nor could you turn on a station that played rap without hearing “Method man”. But for my pick up the day, I’m going to choose a song that I didn’t get into until much later when System of a Down decided to cover it:

Song 1087: “Shame on a Nigga” by Wu-Tang Clan

Bonus: The System of a Down/ Wu Tang version

1086

24 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. This musical time trip has reached 1992. What albums were released around my birthday that year? Not exactly some of my favorite stuff. If it was a month earlier, there would be “Automatic For The People”, “Grave Dancers Union” and “Our Time In Eden”. But I was an early November baby. That gave me The Bodyguard Soundtrack and Positive K’s “The Skills Dat Pay Da Bills”. But there was one really interesting release at the beginning of November 1992- the debut album by Rage Against the Machine. There have been many bands throughout the ages with a political agenda but few have ever been as brazen about it. The lyrics of Zack de la Rocha might as well be him reading angry newspaper editorials. But that wasn’t my connection to RATM. I wasn’t as interesting in the politics. It’s 1992, I’m watching Tiny Toon Adventures and playing Sega Genesis. So, why did I care about Rage Against the Machine?

The answer: Tom Morello. Back in 1989, he was a part of the band Lock Up. I picked up their only album “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and I was quite impressed by the guitar work. In listening to WSOU (Seton Hall’s metal station), I learned that he was a part of the new band and that got me on board. What kept me there was how amazing the band was as a whole. Here’s the first song I ever heard from them:

Song 1086: “Bombtrack” by Rage Against The Machine