the whole delightful picture

I wore out a 2 tapes when I was a little kid, one was Queen’s Greatest Hits, and the other was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I remember watching Freddy and Michael on tv when I was a kid, they seemed like gods to me. So thanks mostly to MJ, and my ridiculous thirst for music, I like and appreciate well done pop songs. I might not listen to the same song every single day for a week, like I did a little while ago for Abba’s Lay Your Love on Me. I might not blasting stuff from the Spice Girls’ Spice cd all the time, but I will totally play that fucker when I’m drunk. And I might not be buying Lady Gaga’s cds, but I will totally watch her perform on tv. So after getting through Brand New’s Science Fiction I was kinda looking forward to listening to Emotion by Carle Rae Jepson.

I totally forgot that CRJ was the voice behind Call Me Maybe. Which is a monster of a pop song! It was everywhere! One time I saw a chorus of dogs singing it, kinda like a traditional dog rendition of Jingle Bells. It was crazy. Emotion doesn’t really sound like that at all! I try not to read too much about the albums for this uh project. Usually I just look at the wikipedia for technical specs, when it was released, producers, stuff like that. Anyway on there it says that Emotion was a response against the monster of Call Me Maybe, which explains why it sounds quite different from Kiss

Emotion is similar to old school 80s pop. Listen to that opening sax/synth riff from Run Away With Me! The whole is a tribute to 80s music that we’ve heard over and over again on the radio. I bet if When I Needed You came out in 1987 it would still be on the radio. All That is totally from some 80s teen rom com. Even on the more angular tracks, Emotion wears its 80s influence proudly, just listen to that “AAAAaaaAAAAaaaahhh” vocals on Black Heart.

All while I was listening to Emotion I knew there was something else besides the standard 80s pop sound. Jpop? Techno? House? (Just listen to those pianos in I didn’t Just Come Here to Dance) When it totally hit me, there is so much old school freestyle in it! Aha! The hidden piece! That familiarity of the kind of music I use to hear blasting out of windows when I was a lad.

There isn’t a rampaging type song like Call Me Maybe, and in fact there’s a few tracks that I straight up don’t like. Warm Blood is a total filler track. That chopped and screwed part is incongruous with the rest of the album. It should’ve been like an extra track. As well as Favourite Colour, which is a weak closer, but that might just be on the version of the album I listened to. But there are tracks like Making Most of the Night, which would make a great score to commit crimes to! And the ridiculous ear worminess of I Really Like You is a wonder to behold.

Because it’s so 80s  you’d think it just be watered down versions of old songs, but Emotion seems pretty fresh. There’s a lot of components to the songs that are very modern. Many of the tracks are more angular than average pop songs, but are still very catchy. I can see many of these being remixed into awesome dance songs. I kind of wish that CRJ didn’t sing in english because sometimes the lyrics aren’t greatest, like in LA Hallucinations. But that doesn’t really matter in the end, because this is one of albums where you gotta take in the whole delightful picture.

Fave songs:
Black Heart
Making the Most of the Night

Goes good with: A coconut milk mocha frapuccino. YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE.


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when I’m sitting around kinda dazed

I remember Brand New as this really sort of emo pop punk band. But this album starts off with this weird recording of someone talking about a dream in therapy which is blended into some great horror movie guitars. And then into these almost sad wave goth keyboard heavy track. I bet sad wave is a thing and I bet it rules. OK sure there’s some elements of the old school Brand New, the band I hated, but Science Fiction is quite a ways from any of the stuff I initially heard. Mainly because it doesn’t make me want to put something else on the second it starts.

If the music was a little different Same Logic/Teeth could fit in one of their old albums. I wouldn’t call this album emo or whatever the fuck you could call them. The more intense rocking tracks are more like some fine neo grunge stuff.  Great solos, depth, and harmony make this an album that draws me in. But there’s still a looming anxiety to it. With this project/folly, I end up dipping into older stuff from the artist, but I still can’t listen to old Brand New at all. Instead of listening to an older album by those guys right now I’m listening to some ridiculous pop music.

I’ve been putting off this review because I don’t know what to make of Science Fiction.* It’s a brooding, keyboard heavy, rock album that sounds good. It’s not the feel good album of the year at all. Even Brand New are are adults now and still having to deal with this emotions bullshit. Damn. There’s a few references to drowning or being underwater, the fact that life can be overwhelming.  An oft repeated sentiment I see is when you’re a kid you thought that being adult was being able to deal with life, but now that you’re an adult you can barely do that. I don’t want that reminder on my headphones, blasting from my boombox, when I’m on the train, when I’m sitting around kinda dazed from my fucked up schedule, when I’m trying to get hyped up to try and go out and act normal. That’s why I listen to the music I like, to hype me up. But it’s kind of a relief to know that someone is trying to keep their shit together as well.

Fave tracks:
Can’t Get It Out
No Control

Goes good with: Whatever drink you use to self medicate. But not as much as you used to because you’re not aiming to get fucked up to have fun. You just need a fucking drink.

*Also I’ve been sleeping worse than usual. Plus just I mean look around.

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a mask of normality

I knew Sufjan Stevens was somewhere within the indiefolk/indiepop genre. So i was expecting just like straightforward acoustic guitars songs about fields. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven across Illinois for any considerable amount of time, it can boring as fuck. However, every once in a while, you run into some weirdness. The first track, Concerning the UFO Sighting near Highland, Illinois, is a thing that happened. Who doesn’t love the weirdness of UFO sightings?

If the songs were more like traditional pop songs it would just never end, because the songs are so long. While Illinois has some pop element it’s more like some kind of prog folk album. I was expecting the sparseness of miles of Illinois fields, but Sufjan alone plays like a dozen instruments throughout the album. Come On! Feel the Illinoise! Part 1 etc, ugh that’s a long song title! Whatever! That song has so much stuff going on! An while the song titles are annoying to type out they help add to the atmosphere. Specially to the short instrumental tracks that maybe convey their point across without the titles. I’m sure those short tracks are sprinkled throughout the album as a sort of a palette cleanser. Most of the songs come in at around 5 minutes long, each one just packed with words and musical elements.

My least favorite song is John Wayne Gacy, JR. While I appreciate that it’s not the kind of usual song about a murderer that I listen it’s too fucking twee. It’s suppose to contrast and highlight to the horrors of JWG, but it comes across like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre directed by Wes Anderson. And the last few lines:
And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floor boards
For the secrets I have hid
Are just really obvious. That’s how serial killers operate. That’s how most people operate, by putting on a mask of normality and going about their day to day lives.

It doesn’t sound like my Illinois, because it’s about Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois. There are a lot of incredibly personal songs like Casimir Pulaksi Day, and Chicago. In particular Casimir Pulaski, this dude is questing his faith, close to losing it. That’s some heavy shit right there. Despite the amount of voices Illinois is not a real sing along album. Great songs, but nothing that would get the car going as you drive for hours on end. Despite that some of the songs are incredibly catchy, “Decatur” was stuck in my head for hours at one point. Illinois is incredibly well thought out album that covers a lot of ground.   I wish I cared more about music, so that I would know about it more, so I could fully appreciate how technically good these song are. Plus who among us hasn’t had an existential crisis in a corn maze?

This album goes really good with: Driving for too damn long across Illinois. So you gotta stop somewhere to get something caffeinated and some gas. At the counter you and the attendant eye each other like one of you is an alien in an ill fitting human costume. In the car you gulp down your surprisingly good gas station coffee and put on some Misfits because Chicago is still far away.

Fave songs: Chicago, Jacksonville, Casimir Pulaski Day.

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an uncertain world. But listen to that sweet guitar solo

I don’t get it when people say “I like all kinds of music except rap and country.” Specially when they are american. I like rap and country. See one day I will really get down to it and make a chart of how Metallica ruined my life, one of those big corkboard maps with thumbtacks and strings, like some kind of conspiracy theorist. It would go like this Metallica -> Misfits -> punk -> psychobilly -> rockabilly -> country. It’s fucking wacky really. But I was still surprised that someone would recommended an album titled The Nashville Sound.

The opening track of The Nashville Sound by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is Last of My Kind which includes the lines
They laughed at my boots, laughed at my jeans
Laughed when they gave me amphetamines
Left me alone in a bad part of town
Thirty-six hours to come back down
A lot of music I like tends be more along the lines of, “I’m going to wear my boots, I’m going to wear my jeans, I took some drugs and didn’t sober up for 3 days, it was awesome, fuck you.”  So I almost put off listening to this album just from that. The song Anxiety is superficially almost silly like something from an SNL skit. But then you hear a line like, “It’s the weight of the world but nothing at all” Alongside this great jangley tense guitar, followed by the coda which is this snarling feedback guitar that builds up into a big instrumental part that really knocks the song into place.

Ultimately it was the quality of the musicianship that won me over. That sounds like I’m underselling the lyrics, but those work well for what the songs are about, time passing, remembrances of things past, stormy relationships, facing an uncertain world. But listen to that sweet guitar solo in Hope the High Road!  The Nashville Sound bridges the underground and old school country I like with the more radio friendly stuff which I tend to detest.  But I’m not going to add any of the tracks to my “Drinking Music”, or “ROCK AND ROLL” lists, both of which feature some kind of country music. The tracks are good, but you really have to listen to it sober in order to appreciate what the music is about.

Goes good with: I’m having a hard time coming up with a non psychoactive beverage. Maybe a nice cold San Pellegrino. But fuck it you’re still going to get some bbq in a bit.

Fave songs:
Chaos and Clothes
Hope the High Road
Something to Love


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One might think, these dudes gotta lighten up

I’ve seen Samael live! I have Passages on cd! I bought it when I saw them at the metro like 14 years ago! I went to go see an opening band, but who knows which band. I don’t remember those dudes, I remember Samael.  Ceremony of Opposites by Samael is labeled as a Black Metal album, but this is crunchy. It flirts with industrial, and some of their later stuff goes more in the direction. But C.o.O. still has a very Black Metal feel. Look at the lyrics for Black Trip.

I’ve chosen the dark, I’ve chosen night
I’ve lost hope of loving day of live
The shades of night belong to me

or from Son of Earth

Welcome to the world of living
here’s your supreme punishment
look at the wound of life
that only death will be able to heal

One might think, these dudes gotta lighten up.  But here’s the thing about Black Metal: It can’t play it for laughs, or with a wink and a smirk.If you approach this music in that direction you come out looking like the idiot. You can’t be ironic about this shit.

Ceremony of  Opposites, still sounds pretty sharp, but it’s not as well done as Samael’s later stuff. The keyboards could be turned up a little more to counter balance some of the almost Pantera like chugging riffs. C.o.O. is a real turning point for this band, their previous 2 albums are much closer to traditional Black Metal, albeit with a sludgy chuggier sound than most band of the same genre. C.o.O. is pretty good, but it’s not one of those albums that will put me in a Black Metal mood, which will lead to listening to more Black Metal, later on. It’s still grim, but in a plotting mechanized way, as opposed to a furious savagery of the Black Metal bands I enjoy. Ceremony of Opposites isn’t music to burn a church down, it’s music to pilot a mech that is powered by Satan, and that’s cool.

A good drink for this would be: Some kind of fucked up energy drink, that will keep you up a good portion of the night when you want to stay home and play some violent video games or paint Warhammer 40k models. I know how incredibly geeky both of those sound, but sometimes you just want to stay home.

Fav songs:
Celebration of the Fourth
Son of the earth
Baphomet’s throne

ps i don’t play warhammer 40k, those models just look cool af. i know i was suppose to listen do Zig Zags Running Out of Red, but it’s not on spotify. I actually have that cd… somewhere. I like to listen to albums at different times and in different circumstances so that’s why I put it off. I guess I can listen to it on youtube! It’ll be the next one, or maybe Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois, because I am a sucker for weird IL stuff.

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almost too personal

It’s real easy to be a critic, especially when the initial reaction to something is, ah fuck this. Which was my first reaction to Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. Since the whole point of this enterprise(folly?) is to listen to other stuff beside Motörhead, Ghost, and Judas Priest, I gave it a chance.

Jawbreaker is always lumped into pop punk, but 24 Hour Revenge Therapy doesn’t sound super pop punk.  Blake Schwarzenbach’s vocals have this great rough and slurred texture, which reminds me of Joe Strummer. The album also features almost hardcore sounding riffs, there this almost breakdown in Outpatient that is point. It sounds loud as fuck, which is great, this nice punk rock sound. The music in Do You Hate Me? is so good, that I would still like it even without lyrics.

Some of the lyrics on Boxcar are “‘You’re not punk and I’m telling everyone.’ Save your breath, I never was one” and “I was passing out when you were passing out your rules/ 1 2 3 4/ what’s punk what’s the score?” Calling 24 Hour Revenge Therapy “Pop Punk” is cutting it short. Punk is basically folk music: the folk singing to the folk about what they are going through. People feel shit, go through stuff, and hopefully connect with other people. I bet thousands of people sing along to these songs every single time they hear them, either in their bedrooms, or in a bar, or out in some field.

25 Hour Revenge Therapy is almost too personal, like reading someone’s diary. Which of course makes the music veer into stuff I don’t dig, all this introspection. How dare you make me feel things? I was at Riotfest a few days ago, and Jawbreaker was one of the headlining bands, but I didn’t go see them. I imagine if I had gone to see them I  would’ve been standing in the back, watching everyone mosh, sing along, go nuts, and feeling a little jealous.

Fave songs: Indictment, Boxcar, Do You Still Hate Me?, Jinx Removal.

Goes good with: A big ice coffee on your way somewhere you want to go, to see people you want to see. It just rained and it’s still mostly cloudy, but the sun is coming out.

Next up is Running out of Red by Zig Zags.

It’s also real easy to be a critic when you’re just watching. You try doing that shit, getting up there and bleeding.

I was at Andrew WK when Jawbreaker was on. I was having way, way too much fun! Party hard!

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to be played at a preposterous volume

There’s this incredibly mediocre radio station here, 97.1, “The Drive.” They’re tag line is “the soundtrack to your life” and it is, which is a little bit sad! At least for my life, because I’ve been listening to “classic rock” for so long that songs that were new rock are now on classic rock stations. So you get the fucking Eagles then a few songs later some fucking Pearl Jam. A lot of classic rock stations just play mainstream rock and not rock music that is just old. The Loop won’t play Sons of Satan by Venom from 1981, but you will hear Van Halen’s  Running with the Devil from 1979. In 1981 that monster of rock, Billy Joel, released Glass Houses, and that album is packed with classic rock station standards. So what does “classic rock” sound like? It sounds like a lot of things, but it for sure sounds like Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak, which sounds like ROCK MUSIC.

Jailbreak starts off with this big all band power chord, segues into this amazing riff, and into a fucking beautiful lick, right before before Phyl appears smooth as the devil. Bass, drums, voice, guitar. That’s it. All the way back in 1976. The songs are either a little melancholy or a little rowdy. Running Back to You is almost syrupy with thick melancholy. Then you got Warriors with these big drums and chords just washing into them like waves on to boulders. The Boys are Back in Town is a song you’ve probably heard, but my god listen to those guitars. Awesome. Don’t lie, you know you’ve air guitared to The Boys are back in town. Even in on the more introspective songs the instrumentation is superb, like in Fight and Fall. Cowboy Song, which is a perennial “I’m going to play this song” when I’m at a nice chill bar and slowly ramping my night up into ridiculousness. Emerald is basically a heavy metal song.  You would think that Jailbreak is one of those odd compilations albums that record labels would put out all the time, but it’s a standalone album, which is awesome.

In the version of the album I heard there are extra tracks, remixes and the like. The tracks that are really worth listening to are the BBC Session versions of Jailbreak, Emerald, Cowboy Song, and The Warrior. The tracks are more aggressive than the album versions and beg to be played at a preposterous volume.

Favorite tracks: Warriors, Fight or Fall, Emerald, Running Back, Cowboy Song

This would go great with: A beer and shot at a cookout, where the sun is out, and the radio is on, and it’s just a good day.

Next up Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy

I had a lot of fun at Riot Fest. Too much fun maybe, because man I was bummed out on Monday. That always happens, all of this good stuff packed into a few days and BAM.

I have a hard time believing that teenagers ever voluntarily listened to Billy Joel. I’ve been listening to him for a really long time now but not because I want to, just because the radio is on. It’s only quite recently that i started to give him a chance only to be surprised at how much i like some of his tracks. Dude has amazing range.

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10 Commandments of west coast rap

Tupac’s All Eyez On Me was the last album released while he was alive, which is hard to believe because Tupac looms large to this day. His influence on pop cultural is so massive that one could easily recreate the deleted scene from Pulp Fiction where Mia Wallace asks Vicent Vega if he’s a Beatles man or an Elvis man, but replaced with Tupac or Biggie. Oh fuck I’m a dork. The biographical movie based on Tupac’s life, All Eyez on Me, was just released this year. There was a hologram Tupac at Coachella a few years ago!  People are still talking about Tupac even though he died 21 years ago. Fuck, type in “Tupac alive” into the holy google and you get just under 700,00 results!

How the fuck is this album 2 hours long? It’s like the 10 Commandments of west coast rap. A lot of songs have incredibly long endings. You can cut at least a minute out Skandalouz of that song and it’s fine. There are definitely a few tracks, like Picture Me Rollin’ and Check Out Time that are just straight filler. Luckily you get some dope tracks like 2 of Americaz Most Wanted, All Eyez on Me, an Only God Can Judge Me.  My main gripe with this album is that it’s too fucking laid back.

Every once in a while there’s this really annoying sample/sound that pops up, like in Holla At Me there are 3 beeps/squeaks. Another squeak/annoyance is in Got My Mind Made up, if you listen to the track you’ll know what I’m talking about. But a lot of the samples are excellent. If you collected a the albums that are sampled in all Eyez on Me you would have an impressive amount of music. Shout out to, a treasure trove to the musically nosy like me. Tupac is a fantastic MC, but his rhymes are overly cushioned in the plush way too long songs.  There are some really good guest verses as well, like in War Stories.

All Eyes on Me is probably a good album for chilling out, maybe driving around. But I’m not so interested in background music, I need to get sped up most of the time instead of coming down.

Favorite Tracks: No More Pain, Heartz of Men, Only God Can Judge Me

Pair this with: A Thug Passion.

I gotta go to the third day of Riotfest, so I’m going to listen to Headfirst by Overkill a few times and drink big iced coffee in order to be properly hyped up.

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Tell them your name is fuck you

I don’t even know what to call Sex Prisoner’s Tannhauser Gate because there are too many genres. grindcore, powerviolence… Ultimately who fucking cares, it’s the kind of brutal music you need when have to hate everything and everyone. Just fucking elbow people in the face to this. That dude blasting Candy Crush on the train? Smack the phone outta his hands and elbow him in the face That coffee counter worker, who looks at you all condescendingly when you say “large black coffee,” like an american? Tell them your name is fuck you and elbow them in the face. That yuppie mother with that double wide fucking suv stroller? Push her outta the way and elbow her in the face, and then elbow the toddler that’s riding on the board in the face, and then hit the baby on the soft part of the skull with a ball peen hammer.

Tannhauser Gate is a 22 minute soundtrack to glorious liberating rage. This whole thing sounds like you’re going to take a hit to the head at a live show no matter where you are standing. A notable example of the great hammering staccato riffs found in this album is Lullaby. Sure it starts off all pretty, there’s a long history of heavy music doing that, but Lullbaby really brings the violence. 5 middle fingers out of 2.

Favorite songs: All of it. It’s 22 minutes long. What do you do in 22 minutes? Scroll through twitter? Stalk people that annoy you on fb? Scroll through instagram wishing your life was that fun? What are you going to do about it? 22 minutes.

The drink of choice for this: a scalding hot, large cup of the blackest coffee possible but only a sip, because you toss the rest of it in the face of someone that just annoys the living fuck out of you, and then when they are groping around blindly, holding their stupid face in their hands, screaming, you kick them down a flight of stairs.

I’m going to riot fest today. Let’s see how that goes. I’m going to get some coffee first. Next up is Tupac’s All Eyes on Me.

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without breaking down and weeping

I remember hearing the first track to Placebo’s Without You I’m nothing almost 20 years ago. Back then I was listening to Black Sabbath, Metallica, some Van Halen, White Zombie. Lots of classic rock, because that was around the time that The Rock 103.5 gave up the ghost. The rock was a good radio station, they would play a good combination of old rock and newer stuff. But once it left the airwaves I was left adrift. Of course I ended up listening to alternative rock on q101 was a thing, so Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, and Soundgarden. So I probably heard Pure Morning and was all like “Weak” as I scrounged around thrift store cassette sections looking for loud rock music. I was just on rim of falling headfirst into harder, heavier metal, before rejecting my beloved Van Halen, before I picked up a single Motorhead album, before shaving most of my head and getting a mohawk, before I grew my hair out until it reached  halfway down my back, when my heart was still unblackend with nary a crack in it, when there was hope for me.

Luckily the rest of the album really pulls it off. I like the slower stuff better than the seemingly more rock and roll stuff. But even the faster stuff is good, check out that opening riff in Brick Shithouse! That’s a high quality song too. But it’s weird how the next track, You Don’t Care About Us, suddenly smooths out. There’s a good amount of repetitive almost drone riffs, which I like.  I dig the sonic wall of guitars in this. Very shoe gaze, but it’s not as deep sounding as that stuff.  Placebo probably has a sensible amount of FX pedals at foot and sane 9 volt battery budget. A lot of songs remind me of this weird sunny sorrow. It’s not fun in the way I can’t imagine anyone doing Without You I’m Nothing at karaoke without breaking down and weeping, but it’s good stuff to listen to while you consider how much everything sucks. I’m shocked that these guys aren’t bigger over in the States. Maybe if the album had come out a few years earlier you’d see people wearing fake vintage Placebo t shirts alongside Nirvana and Pearl Jam ones.  I liked how much of a bummer it is.

It would go good with: Some cheap red wine while you sit at a picnic in the park, but you’re still sad. For the angsty, almost goth, inner kid in you.

Favorite songs: Without You I’m Nothing, Allergic To (thoughts of mother earth), My Sweet Prince, Evil Dildo

I asked a few people for what albums I should listen to and quite a few responded. So I got a few to go to, which is great. I decided that instead of trying to decide between one or the other I’m going to listen to them as they were suggested to me in chronological order. Next up is Sex Prisoner’s Tannhauser Gate. It would be madness not to listen to that just based on the band and album names alone.

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