Saturday, December 23, 2017

12. ATB Pop Christmas 2017

Justin and Noah bring you a blend of Christmas rock songs and some tracks with a distinct New Orleans flavor. Merry Christmas from ATB Pop!

*because of how hard it is to find a decent quality Beatles version of Christmas Time is Here Again, we went with Ringo's version instead.

**The First Noel by Bad Religion doesn't exist on Spotify for some reason.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

11. Alternative Music

From Jack White to Maynard James Keenan, Noah and Justin
discuss their favorite artists of the Alternative genre. 

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Ahead of Myself - X Ambassadors - Single Review

    If you saw my previous X Ambassadors review then you know that I cannot stand this band. Aside from their song designed to sell Jeeps I despised everything on their first album, VHS. Given all of that, you can imagine how much I was looking forward to ripping into their biggest single off of their upcoming second album. Unfortunately, Ahead of Myself actually isn’t too bad.
    The first thing I noticed about this track is Sam Harris’ vocals sound much stronger and overall just better on this track. While Unsteady did showcase a bit of his range, it was in a kind of limp and whiny kind of way. Here Harris presents a pretty powerful and full sounding vocal performance. Unfortunately once you get past the vocals there really isn’t much to the song.
    There is a little bit of a guitar and some drums here and there but it’s a very empty sounding mix for the most part. This would seem to signal to me that X Ambassadors saw the success of Unsteady on pop stations and decided to lean more in that direction. Unlike a band like Imagine Dragons who walk the line between Top 40 and Alternative, X Ambassadors are falling firmly into Top 40 territory.
    I can’t say I expected anything less from this band as VHS was a mess of boring indie songs trying desperately to sound like something deeper. I’m just about ready to call it on X Ambassadors; a boring and unoriginal band with a hell of a lead singer. Overall this song is just okay, nothing special but not nearly as bad as most of their music.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Came Back Haunted - Nine Inch Nails - Track Review

Happy Halloween everybody, today we are looking at the first single off of Nine Inch Nails’ 2013 album, Hesitation Marks. Aside from having a spooky sounding title that fits perfectly with Halloween, this is one of my favorite NIN songs with Hesitation Marks being my favorite album. Most NIN fans would consider that last statement blasphemous, but in my opinion a lot of Reznor’s earlier albums don’t hold up as well now.
Let me first state that I have never been a huge NIN fan; I liked some of With Teeth and some of the other singles but they were never a project I really got into. Hesitation Marks was the first album of Reznor’s that I got into enough to listen the whole thing from beginning to end without skipping around. Even with this album I found that the majority of it felt more like a movie score to my ears, with the only tracks I was really interested in listening to outside the context of the album being Copy Of A, Find My Way and Came Back Haunted.
Came Back Haunted in particular is a good mixture of the 90’s Industrial Rock sound that NIN is known for with some more contemporary electronic elements including some Dubstep leaning bass wobbles. The lyrics to Came Back Haunted seem to be relating to a character in the vein of Victor Snowden, even making an allusion to Deep Throat. While on the surface the lyrics remind me a lot of the kind of conspiracy theory Rock songs Muse put out, their is also a more personal level relating to Reznor’s battle with addiction and depression.
Regardless of the lyrical meanings, this track is the perfect mix of threatening and
danceable that a NIN track should be. Like I said, I love the whole album, but this track is one of the best off of it, and easily the most digestible.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Lorde - Perfect Places - Single Review

    Today we are looking at Lorde’s latest single off of her Melodrama album, Perfect Places. I heard this song for the first time a few weeks ago and I really couldn’t stand it. Whereas with Green Light I was just kind of on the fence about, Perfect Places I developed a deep distaste for. The main issue that I have with this track is that Lorde somehow has become boring and maybe even common.
    This isn’t necessarily all Lorde’s fault as she managed to be a bit before her time, striking it big before the trend of dark electropop started. Because of how long it took for her to release her follow up, Lorde’s style has now been endlessly copied by artists like Halsey, Selena Gomez and even Taylor Swift. So now that Lorde has come back to the post Royals world of mainstream music, she’s no longer particularly original or unique sounding anymore.
    Further hurting Lorde’s potential to stand out with this track is her choice to base the lyrics around the all too common theme of the consequences of partying. These lyrics wouldn’t seem out of place in a Drake or Lana Del Rey song, but again the issue is that these artists set the trends that have been done to death now. Of the few changes that Lorde has made to her style, the additions she made to this song make it blend it even more as the stark emptiness of her earlier work made it stand out more.
    I want to listen to the full album Melodrama before making a complete judgement on Lorde, but I’m worried that much like Drake, the originality of her earlier content isn’t going to hold up on subsequent releases now that she is established. I have heard a lot of good reviews of Melodrama, so it’s entirely possible that my personal opinion is not in line with the majority opinion on these new tracks. I’m personally hoping that the rest of the album is dramatically better than these two singles. Either way, I don’t like this song but I can see why other people would.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard-Flying Microtonal Banana / An Album Review

    Today we are looking at an album that I had recommended to me quite a while ago but just never got around to writing a review of. I listened to this album multiple times over the last months but couldn’t ever real figure out how I wanted to talk about it. But I’ve decided today to quit putting it off and finally do a review of King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard’s album Flying Microtonal Banana. If that name isn’t a dead giveaway, these guys are a pretty weird band. Featuring seven members with three guitarists, two drummers and a bassist as well as interludes of synth, piano, harmonica and flute.

    For a little background on this band I highly recommend a Premier Guitar article entitled Microtonal Madmen where Stu Mackenzie and Joey Walker (two of the guitarists) are interviewed. To sum it up, King Gizzard started as a jam band among friends who played in various bands and the seven man band consists of the guys who stayed and made it their main band. Flying Microtonal Banana is their 9th studio album and features the interesting gimmick of using microtonal instruments, that is instruments with extra notes not commonly found in western music.
    To better explain this I have a few diagrams I’ve made to demonstrate the difference between Mackenzie’s Banana guitar and a standard one.

The Banana has six extra frets that are placed halfway between where two normal frets on a guitar would be creating “in between” quarter notes.

These quarter notes are not typically heard in Western music but are very common in Eastern music such as traditional Arabic, Indian, Japanese and Chinese music. Because of their association with Eastern music, quarter tones have a very exotic sound to those who are familiar with Western music.
    Getting to the album itself, it is way more melodic and enjoyable to listen to than I first anticipated. Many of these type of weird for the sake of weirdness bands cross over into unlistenable territory, but as weird as King Gizzard get they are always making music. I’m not 100% sure of the recording process for this album, but I have to believe that at the very least the demos for this album came from hitting from record and jamming. Every track has the feel of clips from a 70’s psychedelic rock band’s jam session. The mix of traditional western rock conventions with the Eastern tinged sounds brought out by the microtonal instruments creates a really cool sound throughout this album.
    Stand out tracks in my opinion are the opening track Rattlesnake, Open Water and Nuclear Fusion. Rattlesnake is one of the most straightforward songs on the album, reminding me a bit of a lighter take on a Doom Metal song, featuring heavy repetition and subtle shifts of the main riffs over it’s 7 minute length. Open Water is driven by an Egyptian/Middle Eastern sounding drone and a vocal drone that is doubled by something that sounds like a Sitar. Along with the Eastern elements on Open Water there is also an extremely tight and dynamic rhythm section, with the twin percussionists and bassist doing an amazing job at grounding the otherwise floaty track.
    Nuclear Fusion is about halfway between Rattlesnake and Open Water, being a fairly straightforward Alt rock track but still having those heavy Eastern sounds. The drumming is also superb on this track, with plenty of delicious fills in the transitions of this track.
    This is an album that is best experienced as an album rather than as a collection of tracks. I highly recommend just putting this on and letting it wash over you, just don’t expect to be productive as some of the dronier bits become a very relaxing wall of sound after a while. If you’re looking for something different or weird give this one a listen, it will be well worth your time.

Monday, October 16, 2017

10. Halloween Rock Special

Justin and Noah bring you the music to rock out all October long, plus Justin's Hot Flash explores the classic New Orleans TV show Morgus Presents.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Bobby "Borris" Pickett The Monster Rap- Song Review

    Now we get into the cheese. Today we’re looking at Bobby “Borris” Pickett (The Monster Mash guy) and one of his various attempts to score a second hit. After the huge success of the Monster Mash, Pickett did various other parodies and spoofs throughout the years including the Transylvania Twist, Monsters Holiday, a Star Drek and even a King Kong parody. The biggest follow up hit he ever had was The Monster Rap, a cheesy 80’s rap song that served as a sequel of sorts to that graveyard smash.
    The track effectively mixes 80’s synths with the typical horror movie/sci-fi sounds you’d expect and a funky bass line. Funnily enough, as goofy and cheesy as this song is the rap verses by the monster aren’t that much worse than typical 80’s rap songs. The basic idea of the song is the story of Frankenstein’s monster told as a rap song, intercut with lines by Igor, samples of the monster roaring and complete rap verses by the monster.
    The sad part is I actually kind of prefer this one to the monster mash as a song; they’re both cheesy songs that no one should ever listen to outside the month of October, but this one actually some cool things going on with the music. The 80’s hip hop beat mixed with sci-fi noises and monster samples actually sounds pretty cool and that funky bass line is completely danceable. Like I said, I wouldn’t recommend this outside the month of October, but leading up to Halloween, why not throw this on and get into the graveyard smash made for everyone out there looking to bust a rhyme.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nightmare Revisited-Album Review

    Continuing our look at spookier music leading up to our Halloween episode this Sunday, we are looking at the album Nightmare Revisited. This is an album that features various Rock bands covering the songs from the Tim Burton classic Nightmare Before Christmas. The album has a mixture between covers and parts of the original score, featuring artists like Marilyn Manson, Korn and Rise Against in between Danny Elfman scores.
    First off, I have actually yet to see Nightmare Before Christmas so any nostalgia or emotional attachment to these songs is gonna be lost on me; I’m looking at these wholly on how the song sounds and how they compare to the original versions. Also I’m really not going to comment on the scores lifted straight from the movie because I really don’t have much to say about film scores in general. With all those qualifiers out of the way, let’s get started.
    Starting off the covers on this album is Marilyn Manson’s cover of This Is Halloween. Having Manson do this cover was the perfect choice because he is one of the few vocalists who has enough different voices to cover the wide range of characters that sing this tune in the movie. Manson and his band do an amazing job of transforming this largely orchestral track into a creepy hard rock song that wouldn’t be out of place on one of their albums. As much as I enjoy the original version of This Is Halloween, the Manson version has become the definitive version for me.
    Next up we have the All American Rejects version of Jack’s Lament. Unlike Manson they really don’t change up the arrangement much from the original aside mildly speeding it up. Whereas the Manson version of This Is Halloween arguably surpasses the original, this cover is really not that good. The main issue here is that Danny Elfman’s performance as Jack Skellington is bassy and growling while Tyson Ritter isn’t exactly Tom Waits. Honestly I don’t know that anybody other than Elfman could nail this track, but All American Rejects were not a good choice for this cover.
    What’s This? By Flyleaf is interesting because of how much it differs from the original, not even really following the same tempo as the original in a lot of places. While I still don’t like it as much as Elfman’s performance, because of how different it is I don’t dislike it as much as I do Jack’s Lament. Lacey’s performance on this track is really breathy and almost ethereal sounding, which works great over the aggressive guitar driven music and does a good job of matching the tone of the original.
    Sparklehorse sucks; that’s all.
    Next we have the second best track on the album, second only to Manson; Kidnap The Sandy Claws by KoRn. Just like Manson’s multiple voices for the characters in that song, Jonathan Davis does an even better job of having dynamic passages and giving each character their own sound. This is a natural evolution of the original song into a creepy Nu Metal track that is absolutely KoRn and fits the insanity and tone of Tim Burton.
    Directly following KoRn is Rise Against’s Punk Rock tinged rendition of Making Christmas. This is another one of the covers that changes up the sound without losing the feeling of the original and while it may not be better than the movie version, it is a valid cover (unlike Sparklehorse).
    The last of the covers that improves upon and replaces the original (at least in my mind) is Amy Lee’s rendition of Sally’s Song. While the original was good, Amy Lee’s vocals are just a massive step up in quality, with the hauntingly gothic tone of her voice really conveying the despair and hopelessness of the lyrics. Also their is a perfect bridge featuring some rock guitars and ad libs by Lee before she comes back and delivers the last line of the song. This, along with Manson and KoRn masterfully covered the songs from this movie.
    The last of the covers on this album is Poor Jack being covered by the Plain White T’s. This suffers from some of the same issues as Jack’s Lament having a singer who’s voice really cannot touch Elfman’s performance. The difference here is that at least on this version they tried to follow the original as closely as possible and do a pretty good job here. Nonetheless it’s not better than the original.
    Overall this album is a mixed bag, having three great covers a few decent ones and Sparklehorse. The bits of the movie score throughout are also kind of cool, but to me the main draw is the covers. I personally love about half the covers off of this album, and their are some cool ones that were on a different album including Fall Out Boy doing a much better version of Jack’s Lament. I highly recommend checking these out if you were a fan of the original soundtrack or film, but expect to be disappointed by a few of them.

Monday, October 9, 2017

I'm Only Joking KONGOS: Song Review

    Kicking off a week of haunting, spooky and otherwise dark reviews leading up to our Halloween special this weekend is the KONGOS track I’m Only Joking. KONGOS are an Alt Rock band from South Africa made up of 4 brothers who use a mix of African tribal drumming, epic slide guitar and mastery of bouncy accordion riffing to create their sound. They had a huge hit with the single Come With Me Now off of their Lunatic album and a minor hit with the track I Wanna Know from the same album. While these tracks had a mainstream Alt Rock sound to them, my personal favorite track was a darker and more mysterious song entitled I’m Only Joking.

    I’m Only Joking uses those tribal drum patterns I mentioned earlier to conjure up the feeling and imagery of a Voodoo ceremony while the Accordion brings to mind an insane carnival. The dark and mysterious vibe of this song is helped out by the eerie vocal performance of the verses and the conspiracy theory and mystic ramblings of the lyrics. The whiplash from the very dark and serious imagery of the verses to the singer insisting that he’s only joking as a way to mess with the listener only adds to the carnival theme, portraying the singer as a carny telling ghost stories to scare patrons.
    As the song stretches on, it builds to a crescendo of insanity on the noise filled bridge of the song. This track overall works well as a sequel to Come With Me Now’s quest for freedom and losing one’s mind in debauchery and fun. Even the bit of the chorus where the singer states he’s just saying a “...crazy little thing he read.” fits in with Come With Me Now, where he made the comment that “I open my mouth and it’s something I’ve read.” Thus in many ways the insanity of this song can be seen as the follow up to the letting go and loss of control in Come With Me Now.
    Regardless of the way that this track fits into KONGOS’ discography it is an awesome and eerie song. The madness on this track is so much fun and always makes me feel like a horror movie villain when I listen to it. The energy is infectious and powerful and the various changes throughout the track make it one of my favorites.

Monday, October 2, 2017

9. The British Invasion

Guest host Jake Hetty invades the podcast to discuss one of the greatest periods of music, The British Invasion.

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The Killers The Man- Single of The Week

    The Man is a powerful and anthemic track that draws on every single element of The Killers’ sound with a sheen of Bowie tinged funk holding it together. The Killers avoid the trap of sounding like a novelty act here, using New Wave and Funk elements to create something that sounds modern and clean with old school roots. This track sounds like what Panic Station by Muse would sound like if it were produced by Daft Punk.
    The lyrics are very straightforward, knowing the situation and objectively stating that he is The Man, second only to God. While this track is destined to be an uplifting jam, it’s actually written from the somewhat unhealthily arrogant personality of lead singer Brandon Flowers in the band’s early days. Despite the self deprecation associated with the lyrics, Flowers does a brilliant job of selling the song’s boisterous confidence.
    Aside from the amazing lyrics that blur the line between awesome and cheesy, this track has gorgeous instrumentals throughout. While the obvious stars are the bass and drums the guitar work is top notch, including two mini solos and the constant  rhythm playing on the verses. Similarly the synths and keyboard elements wrap around the song giving it the glossy sheen of New Wave that makes this track sound so amazing. The production is flawless, giving just the right amount of space to each element of this really thick sounding track.
    There is really nothing about this track that I don’t adore, as far as I’m concerned this is a masterpiece of how to write a Rock track with crossover appeal in 2017. It would be nice to see The Killer step back into the same mainstream consciousness that Imagine Dragons and Portugal The Man currently are in.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Coldplay Ghost Stories: Old(er) Album of The Week

    Today we are looking at the album that killed my interest in Coldplay; Ghost Stories. From about 2008 to 2011 or so Coldplay were one of my favorite bands, I absolutely adored Viva La Vida and the Prospekts March EP and I at least enjoyed the singles from Mylo Xyloto even if I never got into the full album. Then Coldplay released A Sky Full of Stars as the lead single from their album Ghost Stories and I pretty much lost all interest in this band until I rediscovered Viva La Vida in 2015 and heard some of A Head Full of Dreams.
    Now let’s be clear, I went into this album more biased than usual because of the disdain I had for A Sky Full of Stars. I could not stand the boring instrumental and excruciatingly repetitive lyrics; and yeah those criticisms kind of apply to the album as a whole. I don’t dislike dreamy ambient sounding music as a whole, in fact one of my favorite albums this year, Vitamins and Flowers by Trophii is a card carrying Dream Pop album. The difference is that Coldplay are at their best when they mix ambient elements with more traditional rock elements and always benefit from having interesting soundscapes.
    The only track with any real energy Sky Full of Stars, with the only other thing keeping me awake being random drum machines. I get that Coldplay leaned on similarly dreary sounds for some of their hits like Yellow, Fix You and The Scientist but those songs still had some sort of rock edge or changes throughout the song. Yellow has gorgeous delay filled guitar passages, Fix You turns into a rock track with group vocals and The Scientist eventually turns into a rock song as well. On top of instrumental shifts that keep these tracks interesting, the lyrics are much deeper and more interesting than anything on Ghost Stories.
    Overall this feels like an album where Coldplay weren’t sure what direction to go in, adding in 2010’s pop elements like the heavy use of drum machines and the dreary introspection of their earlier work. The issue is that the album isn’t as good at being dreary and introspective as Parachutes or X&Y and it is nowhere near as good at being a pop album as A Head Full of Dreams. If I were to rank all of Coldplay’s album this would by far be the worst, at least in my opinion.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Weezer Beach Boys- Single of The Week

Beach Boys by Weezer is a track with an interesting concept behind it. The main idea seems to be Rivers Cuomo pining for the sweet and timeless music of one of his favorite bands to break through the dark and aggressive world of modern music. While this Alt rock critique of modern pop and rock isn’t necessarily wrong, the issue is they make this statement on a boring and melancholy sounding track. While this song has more of the nostalgic ache that you would expect from Weezer rather than the empty and dark atmosphere of someone like Missio, the track still falls flat.
The lyrics are actually well composed and convey the story perfectly; but the delivery and music behind the lyrics rob this song of any power. Rather than something remotely close to the fun and slightly off kilter rock sound Weezer have been known for, we get a very low key and melancholy track. The ultimate irony, that may be purposeful, is that Cuomo sings about the need for gorgeous four part harmonies and singing from the heart on a track where he sounds half asleep.
Along with the drowsy vocals, Rivers’ guitar playing is boring, uninspired and sparse. While the intent is to leave room for the bass guitars riffing, the bass isn’t high enough in the mix to put the funky power that it’s trying to convey. If they wanted to do this right they would have done like Charlie Puth’s Attention and cranked the hell out of the bassline to make the emptiness of the rest of the arrangement work better. But because of how limited the guitar playing is and how low the bass is the song just sounds like an empty digital void.

Honestly at this point I prefer EDM Weezer with Feels Like Summer to this boring track; at least that track felt like Weezer. While they have always mixed sunny and depressing to get their sound, Weezer just feel so boring and drowsy that I literally almost fell asleep listening to the song on repeat while writing this. And the worst part is that the lyrics and message of the song are really good, it’s the arrangement, mix and music that ruins the song. I think this song can be summed up by the one review it has on Amazon as of writing this, "Filler".

Monday, September 18, 2017

Foo Fighters Concrete and Gold- New Album of The Week

    After the promise of Run earlier this year the Foos have delivered with an excellent album that draws on some old school mojo mixed with a hit of metallic freak out. Most of the album is devoid of the more Alt rock elements that usually call back to Grohl’s time in Nirvana, replacing them with a double dose of Classic Rock inspiration and Metal attitude. The Foos have also decided to throw some vaguely political themes on a few songs, but they do those of us who find escapism in music a favor by keeping the political messages background to the music most of the time.
    The first track, T-Shirt, seems to illustrate that Grohl also would rather stick to just making music, stating “I just wanna sing love songs and pretend like nothing’s wrong…”. This track does a good job of prefacing one of those vaguely political tracks, Run, by letting us know Dave is only addressing these topics because he feels that he needs to. The track also build up musically to the beginning of Run, flowing together into Run’s metallic freakout of a first verse.
As I said back when I reviewed Run as a single, I love hearing Dave Grohl’s harsh vocals on the verses, especially when contrasted with the softer approach he takes when getting to the melodic chorus. Taylor Hawkins Dancehall and Drum n’ Bass inspired drumming on this track also adds a level of chaos and danceability that I have never heard on a Foo Fighters track before.
    The next track, Make It Right is solid featuring more of Hawkins drumming up front as well as a Jimmy Page like guitar riff and backing vocals by Justin Timberlake. Track 4, The Sky Is Neighborhood is one that I fully expect to wind up on Top 40 and Alt Rock stations, sounding like an all real instruments take on Imagine Dragons. Rather than the drum samples, computerized samples and copious amounts of studio reverb that Imagine Dragons use we have a somewhat dry mix full of acoustic drums and guitar riffing getting the same feel. Also Dave Grohl sounds much nastier and more powerful than Dan Reynolds’ polished vocals.
    The next track La Dee Da is my favorite track on this album featuring two of my favorite gimmicks in a rock song and one of my all time favorite vocalists. This track has powerful fuzz bass as the main driving element, powerful metal screams in a non metal song and backing vocals by Alison Mosshart; seriously if Jack White had a guest solo on this track it would be my favorite song of all time. Even though Mosshart’s vocals aren’t that high in the mix this whole track has the same kind of spastic rhythm that she is known for, likely because her and Grohl are singing the same lines and he decided to match her cadence rather her sing it straight. This is basically the second Run on this album, featuring a powerful sound and somewhat politically charged lyrics.
    Dirty Water is an okay Alt rock tune and Arrows is the most standard Foo Fighters song on this record. Happy Ever After (Zero Hour) is a trippy song that reminds me a bit of Across The Universe and has that distinct Classic Soft Rock sound. Speaking of The Beatles, the next track features Taylor Hawkins doing his best John Lennon impersonation on vocals and Paul McCartney guesting on drums. Sunday Rain rather intentionally sounds like a halfway point between The Beatles and Nirvana and does a good job of feeling nothing like a Foo Fighters song, largely because of not having Grohl sing on this track.
    The second to last track The Line reminds me of Walk and is a pretty solid Foo Fighters track. Closing out this album is the title track which Grohl described as sounding like a mix of Sabbath and Pink Floyd, and honestly that description is nearly perfect. The slow but punishing guitar on the first verse and chorus with Grohl’s creeping, almost spoken vocals certainly sounds like Black Sabbath mixed with Comfortably Numb. Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men adds a choir of haunting background vocals on the chorus that perfectly hammers this song home. This track is filthy and beautiful in all the right ways and closes out the album perfectly.
    Overall this is a pretty awesome album by the Foo Fighters, proving once again that they are second only to Jack White in the modern Rock god pantheon. The only real weakness of this album is they don’t have many songs that sound like the typical Foo Fighter’s sound, but I really like the aggro metallic style that they display on Run and La Dee Da, especially when contrasted against Sunday Rain and Happy Ever After. The dynamics and blending of numerous influences are what make this album so much fun to listen to, along with all of the crazy guest spots on this record. As we get closer to December I have started to make my year end Top 10 list, and something off of this album will definitely be on it.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

8. Powerful Instrumentals

Justin and Noah talk about the instrumentals that stir up and create emotions in the listener, from Tina Guo to Trans Siberian Orchestra and every point in between.

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

QOTSA Villains: New Album of The Week

  So I meant to write this Friday when the album officially released, but being one of the few people

who did not listen to it when it leaked I was caught rather flat footed. Now I've done quick

turnarounds before, particularly with the How Did We Get So Dark review; the difference there was

that I knew exactly what my thoughts were after two listens. With Villains however, it's taken me a

little longer to get a grasp on this thing. This album features some of my favorite QOTSA songs of

all time as well as some that I can't stand.

  Starting off we get a slow Stranger Things synth filled buildup that quickly turns into funk and

fuzzy masterpiece Feet Don't Fail Me. Mark Ronson's style is all over this track, with the heavy

compression and retro styling he is known for blending with QOTSA's Stoner Rock filth. This is

precisely what I was expecting after hearing The Way You Used To Do as the lead single. This song

also features a really slick solo and a dynamic end that fades out before turning into aforementioned

The Way You Used To Do (review here).

  After a strong start we go into a somewhat darker track called Domesticated Animals. This track is

filled to the brim with the snark and wit that Josh Homme is known for, featuring cynical lines that

explore themes of dominance and power. The chorus seems to be commentary on the cyclical nature

of power and freedom; every revolution just leads to another leader to revolt against
(as illustrated below)

The songs' mysterious feeling is aided by it's 7/8 time signature adding an off kilter rhythm to it.

Homme appears to be using the metaphor of domesticated animals to allude to the way people

are essentially tamed by their leaders and governments.

 The next track Fortress is one of my favorite songs on the album and is by far the most touching

thing I have ever heard from QOTSA. The song uses the metaphor of the heart as a fortress at first,

describing how people hide away their true feelings by locking their heart away. The metaphor can

then be linked to the first chorus with the line "every fortress falls" relating to a broken heart. At the

same time the rest of the song seems to be talking in terms of more general hardship and darkness,

likely referencing Homme's own depression.

Where the song takes a really touching turn is when you realize that at least part of the song is

written to Homme's children, with the lines,"...I pray you won't feel as alone as I have felt...I tell you

the awful truth, Everyone faces darkness on their own, As I have done, so will you" being particularly

heartbreaking. Homme then wraps it up by simply letting them know that even if their Fortress falls

they are always safe in his.

 Following that emotional strong point is the track that only QOTSA could record, a slightly insane

track called Head Like A Haunted House. This song features Homme doing his best Elvis / Michael

Poulsen from Volbeat impersonation over the rest of the bands take on  Psychobilly. I've heard some

people say the track feels out of place on this album, but I think it works perfectly as a call back to

the more typical QOTSA sound. While this song is fun and pretty solid, the same can't be said for

most of this album's second half.

  Despite the strength of the album up to now, I just can't get in to any of the last 4 tracks except for

The Evil Has Landed (review here.)  Un-Reborn Again and Hideaway are forgettable and Villains of

Circumstance is just kind of okay. So yeah, in total this album is pretty awesome; even though I don't

like most of the the second half of the album, the first half is so good I'm still recommending it. Plus

I understand my opinion on those 3 songs might not be in the majority here, so give it a listen for


Album on Google Play

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Album on Amazon