Archive | December, 2011

1110

29 Dec

To start off, I’m wondering about the entire concept of writing about a song a day for 10,000 days. Not because of a lack of desire to do the project but the opposite, there are days where I wanna write about more than one song. I’m wondering if this project should be write about 10,000 songs instead of write for 10,000 days, especially since it means writing a song  a day in a blog for another 20 years which begs to question the longevity of one’s attention span (and the medium). If one likes to dance, why not just dance, why compete in a dance marathon? While I ponder that one, the metal marathon continues:

In looking at the list of metal subgenres, one immediately stuck out like a sore thumb- Nintendocore. As someone who grew up in the 80’s, this peaked my interest. Nintendocore is a bit of an odd creature. It’s what happens when you mix metal with the 8-bit chip tune sounds of old Nintendo games and the like. The genre title is a bit of a blanket term. It has been used to define any band who mixes rock sounds with that type of electronica. So, when I started checking out the bands, I was a bit disappointed. Some weren’t Nintendo enough and some weren’t very metal. I enjoy the band I Fight Dragons. They’ve been lumped under that genre title. They are pretty far from metal. That made me wonder if Nintendocore should really be on the list. Then I checked out Horse the Band, the band who founded the term (according to the wonderful wikipedia). That’s where I found the right mix. Check out the sound on their song, “Birdo”, named after that weird egg spitting creature from Super Mario 2.

Song 1110: “Birdo” by Horse the Band

1109

28 Dec

I’m back from my holiday break from blogging. And it’s time for a new theme. Back when I was doing the birthday time travel theme, my girlfriend asked me “Why are you so metal”? Now, she was only joking around when she asked that question but I could probably trace my journey into heavy metal. It would include listening to Queen when I was really little to one of my friends giving me the Faith No More “Real Thing” cassette to finding WSOU on the radio and many other milemarkers. But instead of doing that, I don’t wanna explore why I’m so metal… I wanna be more metal! Over the last few weeks, I have been watching the wonderful VH1 Classic documentary series: Metal Evolution. As a musician, it has been great to hear about the roots of heavy metal and how it evolved. I think for this theme I wanna look at not how it has evolved but at the various evolutions. According to wikipedia, there are over 30 different sub genres of heavy metal and each day of this theme, I’m going to pick a subgenre and post a song from that sub genre. Welcome to the 10kdays Metal Marathon.

Subgenre #1: Funk Metal

Since I mentioned Faith No More, I figured I would take a look at the subgenre that they are sometimes placed in. Funk Metal is just what the title implies, the mixing of funk’s heavy rhythmic core with the crunch of heavy metal. It is a definite mix that often raises eyebrows when you first hear about it. But you have to remember that all music is linked in some way. Funk and metal both have solid roots in strong basslines and drumwork. Whether you call them vamps or riffs, both have repeated guitar parts that drive the song. So, it’s not that a crazy blending.

It’s not a very prevalent genre anymore, it evolved in the 90’s into nu metal which I’ll cover another day. Today, I’m going to look back on one of my favorite bands that were placed in the Funk Metal subgenre- Mind Funk. Back in the early 90’s when I first got into listening to Seton Hall’s Pirate Radio (WSOU) , I would hear Mind Funk all the time and I enjoyed their style. It was a pleasant change from the heavier metal and the grunge that was all over the station but they still carried a certain darker undercurrent in their music (which would show more as the band turned into a grunge band by their next album).

Song: 1109: “Big House Burning” by Mind Funk

1108

19 Dec

When it comes to novels, there are few as controversial as Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”. So, it shouldn’t be that surprising to see that the book inspired Marilyn Manson who built his entire career around shocks. Add in the fact that he was having a May-December romance with Evan Rachel Wood and it was a perfect fit. Manson would name his ode to the tale of pedophilia, “Heart Shaped Glasses” which is a reference to the Stanley Kubrick film based on the book. Manson couldn’t just leave it at that level though. Being that shock rocker that he is, he decided to add an equally controversial music video to the mix which included allusions to orgies, suicide and public masturbation; and the sex scenes between Wood & Manson certainly push the envelope. Nothing like bloodplay to spice up a love scene, if you’re Marilyn Manson.

Song 1108: “Heart Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand)” by Marilyn Manson

1107

18 Dec

I took the last few days off as I have been very busy with traveling and my sons. But now, I’m back and continuing with my look at music inspired by books. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the book “1984” by George Orwell. So many songs were inspired by that story of dystopia. There are classics like “Dream Police” by Cheap Trick. It’s inspired bands with political agendas like Rage Against the Machine, Bad Religion & Anti-Flag. Even I have been inspired to write a song using 1984 references (coming soon to a new album in 2012). Today’s song choice actually references more than one book. It seems that Brandon Boyd of Incubus was watching a talk show on a flight one day. It reminded him of the telescreens in 1984 and he started to write a song. He filled it with references to the Orwell book as well as the works of Philip K. Dick (which we’ll mention in another post). The result would be…

Song 1107: “Talk Shows on Mute” by Incubus

Hey look, another Floria Sigismondi video!

1106

15 Dec

It’s time for a new theme, Music and literature. There have always been interesting connections between the two and I’m going to explore it. For instance, the band Mastodon were inspired by the book “Moby Dick” and made the album “Leviathan” including several songs with references to the classic tale of a sea captain and his obsession with a white whale. Take a look at the lyrics to the song “Iron Tusk” for instance.

Straight line
Feel it burst liver and lung
Long and strong
‘Til she spills her black blood
Center down
Vast the head body and tail
Shatter life
Physeter catodon
Culture vulture
Elephant graveyard
Culture vulture
Engage monster
Wreaking vengeance
Assault with all martial rage
Sail on

While not every lyric hits the mark with the original concept, there is a clear tie. This is the music that Ahab would’ve rocked out to. This is his rage.

Song 1106: “Iron Tusk” by Mastodon

1105

14 Dec

If my last theme has taught me anything, it taught me a little about my listening habits. I learned that I don’t always learn about songs when they are first released. Looking at 2011, I still feel like there are a ton of releases from this year that I haven’t checked out yet and at the same time, there are albums from 2010 that I’m just now getting into. Plus there’s the whole thing with singles. Songs from albums don’t always get pushed at the same rate (it’s why Katy Perry just got another top 10 hit from an album released in August of 2009). Now, some of you out there may be wondering, “Niv, you put out year end countdowns for Songfight all the time”. That’s a bit different since it’s much easier to encapsulate a year’s worth of Songfight stuff. There’s an archive where it’s all placed. I can shove it all onto an mp3 player and get to listening. It’s a smaller landscape. So, I don’t really feel right doing a year end list. (I’m not doing one for Songfight this year either. I listened to the entire archive last year. I think I can take a break.)

So, what’s my new theme going to be? I’m not sure. I have to think about it a little. In the meantime, here is the one of the songs that I just got into. I was on a hunt for bands with “experimental sounds” and learned much to my surprise that the bassist from Coldplay has a side project playing alongside a member of Mew and a member of a-Ha. Yes, that a-Ha. The band is called Apparatjik and the sound is quite far from Coldplay. It’s much more electronic. Another part of the fun of the band is looking at their live performances where they play in a large cube which projects images along with their silhouettes. You don’t see that every day. Tonight’s song came out mid 2010 but I just got into it and can’t wait to check out more of their stuff, including their new album, Square Peg In A Round Hole, which was released in November. Hey, that was just around my birthday…

Song 1105: “Datascroller” by Apparatjik

and here’s the cube:

1104

13 Dec

A year ago, I was writing a different blog called Audioshards which was(is?) about my musical journey but it often got a little too depressing or strayed well off the course. But it was keeping me writing about music, so that was a good thing. And that blogging experience almost led me to another. One of my friends Angela was trying to get a music blog off the ground over at her website Cupcake Goth and asked me to contribute. I liked the idea and my one and only contribution was a review of an album that came out around my birthday in 2010:

Underoath- Ø (Disambiguation) Review

 Band: Underoath
Album: Ø (Disambiguation)
Label: Tooth and Nail
Release: November 9, 2010

The band Underoath has earned its share of detractors. There are a multitude of reasons. They came onto the musical landscape early in the 00’s and were lumped by many into the emo genre, in part to their dual vocalist style and their appearances on the Warped Tour. They have also been lumped into the Christian Rock scene due to the band member’s faith. Neither of these labels truly apply to Underoath. They aren’t singing about Jesus and their music is far harder than the Jimmy Eat World’s and Taking Back Sunday’s that inhabit the mainstream emo scene. Underoath at its core is a metal band and their seventh album Ø (Disambiguation) makes that fact undeniable. I think it’s time for the detractors to take another look at Underoath.

Ø (Disambiguation) marks the first album without singer/drummer Aaron Gillespie, who has gone off to front acoustic Christian band The Almost. With a new lineup in place, including former Norma Jean drummer Daniel Davison, Underoath’s sound has changed and grown considerably darker. There were times in my listening to this album where I found myself comparing Underoath’s aggression to bands like Slipknot. On other songs, they found a way to channel a dark atmosphere on their songs comparable to the Deftones or Tool. It’s all a far stretch from songs like their breakout hit “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door”. It’s a band reborn and I like this band’s new direction.

The album’s opening track “In Division” sets the table by starting with eerie keyboards before lead singer Spencer Chamberlain unleashes a vocal fury. With Davison’s blistering drumwork, the energy of the band has changed. There was a certain precision to previous Underoath songs. “In Division” is less about creating a balance, it’s moreso unleashing the band’s raw energy. That energy carries over into “Catch Myself Catching Myself”, a song which includes a NIN/Filter-esque breakdown with Chamberlain in hushed tones singing “I’m not the same anymore”, a statement that could be the mantra of this entire album.

The highlights of the album include the moody “Paper Lung”, which may be one of the album’s most tame songs but it’s a song filled with strong guitar work and one of Chamberlain’s best vocal performances of his career proving he could handle the clean vocals aspects he didn’t do while under Gillespie. Chamberlain’s grittier vocals also get a chance to shine on the album. On “A Divine Eradication”, the band finds it’s most powerful groove. As Chamberlain growls “where is my fix”, Davison and bassist Grant Brandell build a heavy foundation for the two guitarists to layer sheets and sheets of sonic chaos. It all comes together to make one of the best songs on the album.

Ø (Disambiguation)

is not a perfect record. It does loose some steam towards the end with more generic songs at the end. “My Deteriorating Incline” and “Vacant Mouth” both lack the power of the previous songs while album closer “In Completion” spends too much meandering in their old sound. It may have its flaws but it remains an album that I would highly recommend. This is the start of a new sound for Underoath and I look forward to the opportunity to hear more.
4/5

~ Niveous

And now a year later, I’m back on good ol’ 10kdays and I just added that review to my blog. Full circle. Here’s a song off that album to end my birthday time travel theme.

Song 1104: “Paper Lung” by Underoath