Sunday, October 31, 2010

Band of the Week: Cancer Bats

I picked Cancer Bats this week largely because I've got Hail Destroyer permanently stuck in my head at the minute. It's an awesome song. Unfortunately it's also one of the few songs I actually know by Cancer Bats. Since I tend to think you can't really love a band if you only know one or two songs, I feel the need to justify why I love Cancer Bats so much. Hmmm...
Reason 1: it's simply amazing music. Kinda, hardcore, punky, metal influenced amazingness. Hail Destroyer is perfect for letting loose at the world for a few minutes. Or an hour or so if you stick it on repeat... which I totally didn't do just to wind my housemate up...

Reason 2: They're even more amazing live. They were main support when I saw Billy Talent last year and it was so totally epic. I wasn't really expecting to like them, given that I'd only just started listening to more post-hardcore, metal and stuff. I checked them out before hand and wasn't over-keen. But dear god, so awesome live. OK, so I couldn't understand a word Liam Cormier was singing/yelling, but the pure energy of the performance was easily enough to make up for that. Plus, I swear he was totally wasted. Drunk Canadian = hilarity. He kept telling the crowd "We're the motherfucking Cancer Bats", doing another song and then saying it again, like he'd forgotten. I was in half a mind to shout back, "yeah, we know, you already told us about 5 times." Amazing gig.

Reason 3: ... I don't think I have a reason 3. Oh, they covered Beastie Boys' Sabotage, that's  pretty good reason. Great cover, plus the video's pretty cool. By cool read: silly.

I give up on finding reasons. Cancer Bats are simply amazing. Seriously, check 'em out and if you ever get the chance to see 'em live, TAKE IT. Think that's all. Check 'em out, tell me what you think and pass it

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Randomness: Cover versions

I like a good cover version. It's nice to see another artist's interpretation of songs. Providing they do a decent job. I can name numerous good cover versions but for every one of them I can probably think of two or three crappy ones. I've linked to the covers and originals for your listening pleasure. Or pain as the case may be.

Top of this list of crimes against cover versions is Jedward's cover of Blink-182's All The Small Things. I mentioned this in a post a few weeks back, but to reiterate, it is heinous. Seriously, I tried to be nice about it, but my ears were traumatised. I had to drown them in loud, shouty music to make it go away. This monstrosity is followed by the Jonas Brothers' version of Busted's hit Year 3000. This isn't so much an awful cover (although it's not exactly good), but Busted were the band of my early teens. I loved them, idolised them even. Busted were never an epically amazing band, but they were mine (possessive, sorry). Hearing a band like the Jonas Brothers' cover them was horrifying. What makes it worse though was the fact that so few people (at least on the video I first found on youtube) actually realised it was a cover. Now, I know Busted weren't that big in the States where the Jonas Brothers have their biggest fan base, but that pissed me off. I left a couple of snarky comments. Nothing too harsh, just pointing out that firstly, I don't like JBs and I thought the cover was pretty poor and secondly that the Busted version was infinitely better. I got a response to the first one from some total psycho of a fangirl who essentially shouted at me over the internet (she had a capslock problem) that if it was such a poor cover, why were they making so much money from it? To which I once again pointed out that it was a cover - they didn't write it, the lyrics, music and whatnot are good, but the cover wasn't. Oh, and that the curly haired one (name, anyone?) had a voice that I didn't think suited the song. I think I called him whiney. I was really quite restrained considering half my brain was screaming that I should throttle her through the internet. To this I got the following reply:


Told you she had a capslock problem. My initial reaction to this was, dear god, it's a troll, my bad. I checked the user page. If it was a troll, this was the only act of trolling I could find, so I came to the conclusion that she was just a crazy rabid fangirl. With piss poor taste in music in my opinion.

Anyway, moving on down my list of appalling cover versions. Avril Lavigne's live cover of System Of A Down's Chop Suey! is pretty scarily bad. I only came across it a few weeks ago and I had to stop the track a few seconds in because oh dear god my ears were going to bleed. Bad song choice, Ms Lavigne. I like Avril Lavigne, but I really wish she hadn't even attempted this song. She can't scream/growl/even get her voice to do what's necessary to make the song sound right.

Now, what else do I have on my list? Hmmm... well, I think here we move on to the not so much bad, as just should-never-have-been-done. Again, purely my opinion. Let's start with Leona Lewis' cover of Snow Patrol's beautiful Run. I first heard the cover when my parents picked me up from uni at Christmas in first year. I was traumatised. Now, I like Leona Lewis' voice. But she warbles SO MUCH. Run does not need someone warbling over it. It's a beautiful song that calls for soft, straightforward singing. Hence why I hugely prefer the original. Much more suited to the tone of the song.

Next on this list of should-never-have-been-done covers is Madonna's cover of Don McLean's classic American Pie. Again, there's nothing particularly bad about Madonna's version, it just doesn't work. It sounds a bit autotuned to me (I have a major aversion to autotune) and it's a bit bland - it doesn't have the soul that McLean had. Also, I'm so much in love with the original that I object to cutting out verses. Hey, I get annoyed that the radio stations never play the full version because it's just too damn long.

Moving on. Glee. Oh, yes, Glee. I have nothing against Glee. Well, I do. Slightly. In that, I suspect that at least some if not many of the kids who watch it don't know who did the originals of some of them songs. I'm not saying they all do. Indeed, I'm sure a lot of them know the originals. What set me off about this though is my old secondary school's annual House Music competition. One of the House's is using Glee's version of Bonnie Tyler's epic Total Eclipse of the Heart. I asked my friend why they were using that version and the answer I was given was "the original's like 7 minutes long". Yes, darling, that's the album version. Try listening to the single version, it's about the same length as the Glee version. Same arrangement just about and everything. What worries me is that maybe the song was picked because someone had heard it on Glee and only knew that version, had no idea who the hell Bonnie Tyler is. This upsets me. Bonnie Tyler has a beautiful, distinctive voice, but instead of basing their House Music entry on her version, it'll be based on Glee, which is bland. Yes, the cast can sing, but there's not the power and emotion there that Tyler has. Ahem. Ranting. Moving on.

Then we have the covers that aren't actually covers, but samples. I only have the one example to include here, although I know there are more. Gym Class Heroes sampled Supertramp's Breakfast In America for their single Cupid's Chokehold. I have no problem with this. In fact, I actually rather like the song. What I don't like is that once again, kids didn't realise it was a sample. On the bus home from school one day not long after Cupid's Chokehold was released, Breakfast In America was played on the radio and I was horrified to hear one of the younger kids say, and I quote (yes, it's actually burned into my memory):

"Oh my god, someone seriously covered it already?"

They got a bit of a shock when I turned round and rather sharply told them that this was the fucking original and maybe they should expand their knowledge of music. I was rather a lot harsher than I intended to be, but I was so annoyed. Again, moving on before I go off on a major rant about young teens and their taste in music.

And then there are the cover versions that I think are awesome. VersaEmerge are particularly good at these, I've found. Their cover of Britney Spears' Toxic is amazing. Also, it has the seal of approval from Ms. Spears, thanks to the power of Twitter. And then there is this wonderful girl called Juliana Daily who writes her own material, but also covers other artists. My favourite by her has got to be her version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah - just beautiful. Also high on my list of favourite cover versions are most of the tracks included on Fearless Records' Punk Goes... series. At least the ones I've heard. Yes there are bad ones in there too, nevershoutnever!'s cover of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody currently far down on my most loathed list, but for the most part they're lovely refreshing covers.

My all time favourite cover version? John Cale's version of Hallelujah. Yes, I love the song. It was John Cale's wonderful voice that actually got me listening to the song. It's seriously a beautiful version. I know a lot of people prefer the original or Jeff Buckley, but John Cale just has such a magical voice... I'm going to stop there before I babble too much. I think that'll do - I've just realised how long this post is and most of it's ranting. My bad. Sorry, folks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Band of the Week: The Damned Things

Fall Out Boy. Anthrax. Every Time I Die. Listened to any of them? Like any of 'em? Listened to The Damned Things? If not, you should totally check 'em out. They're amazing.

And now I'm going to back that statement up. Or a least attempt to. The Damned Things are one of these supergroup type bands, made up of Andy Hurley (drums) and Joe Trohman (guitar) from Fall Out Boy, Keith Buckley (vocals) from Every Time I Die and Scott Ian (guitar) and Rob Caggiano (guitar) from Anthrax. Three fairly dissimilar bands. I mean, FOB are/were kinda pop-punk, alternative, Anthrax are one of the big four of thrash metal and ETID play some sort of metalcore (don't ask me what, I haven't managed to figure it out yet). Diverse bunch of musical experiences there. The result is a hell of a lot more coherent than you might expect though. The Damned Things play straight-up hard rock with a strong heavy metal influence. And damn, it sounds so good.

For instance, take Friday Night (Going Down In Flames). It's quite simply a good solid rock track. Plus, it's got a brilliant chorus that I reckon is just brilliant for singing along to. Lovely little guitar solo, great vocals, good solid rhythm. And it's on free download at the moment, which is just wonderful. It'll tide me over until the album comes out in December. Currently, it's playing on repeat on my iTunes.

The only other tracks I've heard so far are We've Got A Situation Here and album title track Ironiclast. Again, good strong tracks with brilliant vocals from Mr Buckley. I do love his voice. It's just a great voice for rock. I spent months listening to the rough mix of We've Got A Situation Here on their MySpace, so it was kinda nice when they put the final version up. It was great to see the changes that had been made. Nothing drastic, but it was a far more refined version, which is what you'd expect, really, but I mean totally awesomely refined. They've still only got the rough mix of Ironiclast up, but going by their standards, I reckon the final version of that's going to be pretty damn awesome too.

Hmmm... what else to say? Well, totally check 'em out if you like rock, hard rock, heavy metal (especially of the early variety) and hey, just check 'em out full stop. They're wonderful. I mean, they make me want to headbang and I really don't like headbanging - it gives me the most ridiculous headaches. The debut album, Ironiclast, is due for release on December 14th. Anyways, check 'em out, tell me what you think and pass it on.

Assorted The Damned Things links:
Free download of Friday Night (Going Down In Flames) (you'll need to "Like" the band first)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Randomness: The BBC

I'm a Brit. I love the BBC. If I was living in the UK right now and had a functioning TV, I wouldn't mind paying the licence fee for good quality programming. As it is, I'm in Australia and in the UK either I'm with my parents so they pay the fee or I'm at uni where there is no functioning TV. I use BBC iPlayer online instead, which is fee-free so long as you don't watch programmes live.

This does have a point. The UK government has plans to make huge cuts to the BBC's budget via the licence fee. Currently, those cuts stand at 16% (last I heard, which was yesterday). There were fears they could be up to 26%. That's a quarter of the entire budget or equivalent to the cost of running BBC2 (so I'm told). Yes, there need to be changes in spending to sort out our money troubles, but is the BBC really considered so low on priorities that it warrants such huge cuts? Why not scrap our nuclear weapons programs, we don't need them... I'll not go into that any more. Suffice to say I strongly disagree with nuclear weapons and I'd rather the UK disarmed ours.

Anyways, back on topic, there's so many wonderful things about the BBC that're worth saving. My personal favourite is the Natural History department. Look at their output over the years - all those stunning documentaries, bringing natural history to a wider audience. Hey, I credit David Attenborough's documentaries and the Wildlife On One/Two series with my life choices - I've wanted to work with animals my whole life and conservation since I was about 11.

And then there's the drama programming. Sci-fi in the form of Doctor Who and Torchwood. Let's face it, who hasn't heard of Doctor Who? Classic show. Run by the BBC. Crime drama - Waking The Dead, New Tricks and so many more. And then there's EastEnders. Much as I hate to admit it, it's a semi-decent and obviously popular programme and one of the longest running soap operas. It's been praised for tackling often controversial issues and, OK, other broadcasters do this as well, but I'm just giving examples of what could be lost if the BBC faces too many spending cuts.

And the BBC doesn't just fund those channels with BBC in the name - some funding direct from the government also runs the Welsh channel S4C (all in Welsh, can't understand a word of it) and some funding from advertising goes towards running Channel 4. Oh, and the BBC runs BBC Alba in Scotland which I only found out about when I hit the link to it on iPlayer and the entire page translated into Gaelic. I was so confused.

You know what's also amazing about the BBC - NO ADVERTS. And you get this by paying (currently) £145.50 a year. And that means getting full hour programmes instead of 45 minute ones stretched over an hour with adverts every 15 minutes or so. That means not getting bombarded with adverts for crap you'd never buy. It does mean you have to watch a different channel in the run up to Christmas, simply because it's not Christmas until you've seen the Coca-Cola Christmas ads. And of course, there's some brilliant programmes on other channels, at least on the terrestrial ones, which you don't have to pay for because they're funded by that annoying advertising. But then we look at Sky, which is probably the BBC's biggest threat.

British Sky Broadcasting, BSkyB or just plain old Sky. A pay-TV broadcaster. So, you get adverts. And they've got most of the Premier League football games. For the privilege of this and having a whole bunch of channels you'll probably never watch, you can be paying upwards of  £19 a month. So that's £228 a year. Compare this to the current BBC licence fee: £145.50 a year. So yes, you get more channels with a provider like Sky, but what about the quality of the programming? Have a think, there's BBC1, 2, 3 and 4, CBBC and CBeebies for the kids, BBC News, Parliament, Alba, S4C, all those radio stations - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Live, 6 Music and numerous other ones that I can't remember right now. All of that programming for about 2/3 the price of a minimum Sky package. And you know what - you still have to pay the licence fee if you have Sky.

OK, so that's turned into a major babble. I love the BBC. I do not want to see it get hurt. Mm, I think that'll do before I go off on an even bigger rant. If you have a reason to love and be proud of the BBC, check out We're Proud Of The BBC and leave them your reasons.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Current love: Nowhere Left To Run

Being the fangirl I am at heart, I signed up for McFly's new Super City. It's essentially an uber-interactive fan site, but by signing up as one of the first 20,000, you get a whole bunch more awesomeness. So, OK, it's not quite as exclusive as it was supposed to be - there were huge technical problems on the first day so they raised the number from 10,000. I'm still pretty sure (going by web addresses and such) that I was within the first 2000. Yes, I'm sad.

Anyway, the first of these awesomenesses is first view of the band's short film Nowhere Left To Run. They put it up onto the site on Friday (Saturday, my time) and I've watched it so many times this weekend, it's ridiculous.

So what, you may ask, is so wonderful about this film? Well, for a start, it's not half as cheesy or badly acted as I thought it might be. In fact, the acting's pretty damn decent and the plot...well, it's vampires, you can't help but be a little cheesy with vampires. But they don't sparkle. They actually burn in sunlight (well, one of them does, a role that was apparently supposed to be for Fearne Cotton). And they're very big on the drinking blood. Good, proper vampires. I found a wonderful comment on Twitter about it:

"Vampires shouldn't sparkle, Vampires should play drums. #NowhereLeftToRun"

Courtesy of @RadioBolly.

If you know McFly, that kinda gives away who the villain of the piece is, but they make it pretty obvious from the beginning that something is wrong with Harry, the drummer. And he makes an oh so gorgeous vampire. I really, honestly tried not to, but my inner fangirl squee'd so much over semi-nekkid and nekkid Harry, it was ridiculous. Bassist Dougie comes across as sweetly oblivious for the most part, poking fun at Tom (guitars/vocals) when he's attacked by the cleaning girl he has a crush on who just happened to get bit by Harry. Tom does the suspicion thing well - he seems to twig pretty early on that something's wrong with Harry, although like the rest of the band, he doesn't put two and two together till the manager actually tells them. The manager is just suitably slimy without making you want to throttle him and Danny (also guitars/vocals) is brilliant, purely for the immortal line:

"Dougie! Don't go into the woods!"

Why this is so funny, neither me nor any of the other fans who have seized onto it, seem to have worked out yet. Seriously, I have no idea why it's so funny, it just is.

Then there's the soundtrack. The band have used the film as a platform to show off some tracks from their upcoming album and they work pretty well, actually. The End Of The World works particularly well for the scene in which they vanquish Harry by, get this, staking him with a guitar neck. Oh, I loved that idea. Anyways, the band tracks are mixed in with some great orchestral pieces (that I recognise from somewhere, but can't remember what they are) which are great for the more suspenseful parts of the film. The one track that seems seriously out of place is The Sunny Side Of The Street which plays over the end credits. It's such an upbeat, sunny song and it contrasts starkly with the ending of the film. Which is a cliffhanger, by the way - you don't get to find out what happens to Dougie.

As with any film, especially one like this, there are flaws. Firstly: what the hell is with the wolf? In the opening sequence (which is actually the closing sequence), you see a wolf running through the woods with the vampires and Dougie. Why is there a wolf? I presume it was supposed to be symbolic in some way, but it seems so out of place... I don't know. It just doesn't seem to work.

Secondly, there's the above mentioned weirdness with the choice of track for the closing credits. But I think I can forgive that purely because it's such an awesome song and so much more like old McFly than new McFly.

Thirdly, blue/green screen. They've used fake backgrounds, by the looks of things. Now, I know this was fairly low budget, but you shouldn't be able to tell they're fake backgrounds. It's only in a few shots, fortunately.

Finally, there's one or two little continuity errors. For the performance of Shine A Light we first see the band in the studio in one set of clothes. Then we switch to a CGI-type set with a different set of clothes and then back to the studio version at the end of the track. Woot for artistic licence, but was there any need for it? Which reminds me - like HELL does any studio actually look like that. Seriously? Ah well, let's call it artistic licence. Maybe it's just an uber-fancy one.

Well, I think we'll end there. I actually have a whole load of notes about the film, but I figure no one wants to read all my little comments about plot, suspense building, revelations and whatnot. Maybe I'll post a picture of them instead. Admire my notes:

Might contain spoilers. But then, the film should've been taken off by now, so you should be safe.

Right, that'll do then. If you're a Pioneer and you've stumbled across my blog because of this, let me know what you thought of Nowhere Left To Run - I'd love to know what other people thought about the film in general and the new album tracks that were used.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Seriousness: Wear Purple

This coming Wednesday, 20th October, there's a movement for people to wear purple. Why? In memory of the 6 boys who have in recent months committed suicide as a result of homophobic bullying. Purple represents spirit on the LGBTQ flag, which is why it's been chosen. It can also mean other things - to me, it means a chance to get rid of negative emotions, inner being, wisdom and magic. Now, I am a firm believer in magic, so that last one is particularly important. By magic, I mean the wonder in little things, the differences small things can make. That's what these boys needed - small changes in peoples' perceptions, a few people to stand by them and tell them that they were wonderful just the way they were.

Unfortunately, these boys were not, are not, alone in their suffering. Men, women, girls and boys the world over are victimised, persecuted and outcast simply for who they love. Or in some cases, who they are perceived to love. I've come across so many cases in the news where people have been bullied simply because someone has assumed that they're gay.

I've come across people who have said - why should there be pride in being gay? You're not proud to be straight. And to them I say: no, there shouldn't be pride in being gay because it's a natural thing that you can't help. BUT, there should be pride in having the courage to be open about who you are regardless of what certain parts of society think of you. There should be pride in overcoming hatred, prejudice and intolerance for something that you cannot change about yourself.

There's a wonderful quote by Terry Pratchett in his book Guards! Guards! from the dragon (which has just told the Privy Council that it wants to eat one person a month) and the man who summoned the dragon and is now regretting it:

"You have the effrontery to be squeamish, it thought at him. But we were dragons. We were supposed to be cruel, cunning, heartless and terrible. But this much I can tell you, you ape - the great face pressed even closer, so that Wonse was staring into the pitiless depths of his eyes -  we never burned and tortured and ripped one another apart and called it morality."

To me, this is just so true of humanity. It sickens me. I will be wearing purple on Wednesday, in copious amounts. It will probably clash wonderfully with my hair and I will tell anyone who asks exactly why I'm wearing such a clashing outfit. In support of everyone who's ever had to suffer through homophobic bullying, anyone who's ever considered suicide as the only way out. There is hope for everyone - it all starts with small changes. People just have to have the courage to make them. Love is love.

Facebook event page is here with more info.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Band of the Week: Cobra Starship

Ah, Cobra Starship. Synth-pop, alternative-ish stuff, for those who don't know who they are. I love them. A lot. Cobra were one of the first bands I started listening to when I really started getting in to music of a more alternative nature. My sister recommended them and I just about fell in love as soon as I heard their cover of I Kissed A Girl (renamed to I Kissed A Boy).

There's something wonderful about Cobra Starship. They make music with alternative leanings, but it's still pop enough to appeal to the mainstream. It's music that makes you smile and makes you get up and move. They're not afraid to be silly, either. All in all, it's just wonderfully danceable music.

But, up until early last year, they could still couldn't be counted as mainstream. Pop-influenced, yes, but the mainstream hadn't really got hold of them. That changed with the release of their latest album, Hot Mess, and its lead single, Good Girls Go Bad. I can but presume that some of this sudden jump into the mainstream was due to the fact that Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl fame provided guest vocals on Good Girls Go Bad. Gossip Girl appears to be quite ridiculously popular, so I'm guessing a load of fans of the show decided to check the song out. Obviously, I'm not sure, but I think it's a reasonable assumption. What I do know is that all of a sudden, people knew who Cobra were. A friend of mine who'd never shown any interest in the band before asked me if I had the single. I told him no, because I was waiting for the album and asked him what he knew of the band. He told me he'd only heard Good Girls Go Bad because it was on Radio 1. I asked if he'd heard any of their other tracks and he said no. Now, it might just be me, but if I hear a track by a band or artist and I like it, I check out some of their other work, on the basis that if I do, I'll buy an album instead because it's better value. Very rarely do I just buy a single track. Anyway, getting side-tracked.

My friend's request should really have alerted me to what was going to happen when Cobra hit the mainstream. Oh yes. Suddenly, Cobra are popular. Cobra are cool. Therefore, it makes you cool to like Cobra. The dreaded scenies. I will clarify, because I know scenies means different things to different people. To me, scenies are those people who like a band/artist simply because they're cool/popular/their friends like them. It is possible for scenies to like a band because the band is awesome, but in my definition, this tends to come as an after-effect.

Now, I have no problem with bands that I like becoming popular. Good on them. It's great that Cobra Starship are enjoying more success. I dislike that in this case, I suspect that the success is due less to the fact that they're an amazing band and more to the fact that they had a popular actress do guest vocals on the single. I love Hot Mess, the most recent album, but in my opinion it wasn't as good as the first two. This is unusual for me - normally I can see the progression in band's album and either rate them better or at least equal to previous efforts. I can't help but think that this is because, to me, the album seems to be aimed at the mainstream. Aside from Leighton Meester's appearance on Good Girls Go Bad, there's also B.o.B's appearance on The World Will Never Do and Flo Rida on a remix of GGGB. The whole thing seems geared to a wider, chart-loving audience. The music itself is good, still very obviously Cobra Starship, but it seems to be lacking something from the first two albums.

I finally got the chance to see them live in February this year. I took my friend Claire as a Christmas/birthday present for her and we loved it. Amazing gig. So much energy, from the band and from the crowd and a set with a good proportion of older tracks. And that caused something that really made me smirk. They played The Church Of Hot Addiction and I swear a huge portion of the crowd simply stopped singing along. A little in the voice in the back of my head started chanting "Scenie scenie scenie". I was so...amused, let's say. Not happy, because it upsets me that people don't check out bands' older album material. But amused covers it nicely.

We got to see them afterwards too. It was Claire's first gig and she wanted her shirt signing, so we toddled round to wait for them to come out. I was tired, my feet were in pain from my Doc Martens and I had an early train to catch the next day, so I really wasn't too keen on hanging around for ages. Plus, I have a phobia of crowds. I can cope with gigs because I get lost in the music, but just hanging around in a small crowd waiting for the band to emerge was really pushing it. So when the band finally came out, Claire turns to me, asks if I'm OK, to which I reply no and she says, I know what'll make it better - look, there's Ryland. That made me smile. What really made me smile though, was when Gabe Saporta, the vocalist, turned up. There he is, going round, signing stuff, hugging people, taking photos, telling people he's drinking man beer when in fact it's some sort of lager. I'm trying to get out of the mass of people because I'm pretty close to having some sort of panic attack at this point and Gabe sees me and says "I'm sorry, did I miss you?". Oh, how my inner fangirl reacted to that. Half my brain managed to form the lovely coherent sentence of "No, I'm fine thanks" and the other half started screaming "OHMYGODGABESAPORTASPOKETOME". The result of this was that instead of actually saying "No, I'm fine thanks" it came out as a sort of strangled squeak. Embarrassment at the time, hilarious afterwards.

Anyways, moving on. I love Cobra Starship. They make me smile, they cheer me up when I'm down and they make me dance. For those wonderful feelings, I can put up with the scenies. So, check 'em out, let me know what you think and pass it on.

Assorted Cobra Starship links:
Official Site

Recommended tracks (album):
The Church Of Hot Addiction, Pop-Punk Is Sooooo '05, You Can't Be Missed If You Never Go Away (from While The City Sleeps, We Rule The Streets)
Guilty Pleasure, One Day Robots Will Cry, The World Has Its Shine, Smile For The Paparazzi, Prostitution Is The World's Oldest Profession (And I, Dear Madame, Am A Professional) (from Viva La Cobra)
Nice Guys Finish Last, Pete Wentz Is The Only Reason We're Famous, Hot Mess, New Edition (b-side), The Scene Is Dead - Long Live The Scene (from Hot Mess)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Current Love: My Chemical Romance - Na Na Na

First, have a listen. Now, decide a) whether you like it and b) whether you can cope with me babbling about it. Decision made? Good. Off we go.

I love it. I love it I love it I love it. It's got a lovely punk edge that was somewhat lacking on The Black Parade, which is awesome. It's also got that wonderful "stuck-in-your-head-all-day" quality that is the sign of a good song (or an annoying, very catchy one, but that's not the case here). I have waited ages for this damn single. I mean, there were faint mumblings last  year that we might get a new album late 2009, early 2010 and then obviously nothing came of it because the mumblings were wrong. It's now almost 4 years since The Black Parade came out and Na Na Na is definitely worth the wait. I love The Black Parade, but it wasn't a patch on Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. While Na Na Na is definitely not Three Cheers-type material, it's more in that direction than The Black Parade. It's like... pop-punk, but with way more punk than pop. It'll still appeal to the mainstream, but to be honest, I don't have a problem with that. This is music that the band obviously wanted to make and they love it just as much, if not more, than their fans. So what if it's a bit mainstream? It's good music that makes you smile, makes you dance, makes you sing. And actually, this is exactly the sort of track I can see myself bouncing around to at a show, taking swipes at any scenies within reach. Oh, how I dislike scenies. Ahem... moving on.

Hmmm, what else to say about Na Na Na? Or indeed, MCR's upcoming new album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Oh, I know. I CAN'T WAIT!! I WANT IT NOW. Alas, I have to wait until November 22nd, but that's not too far away now. Happy happy happy times. Now, I think I'm going to listen to Na Na Na on repeat for a bit.

Check it out, let me know what you think, pass it on.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Band of the Week: Escape The Fate

I think a bit of background's in order, given the subject that I'm going to focus on here. Escape the Fate are a (mainly) post-hardcore band, formed in 2004. Their vocalist and lyricist for the first release was Ronnie Radke. The band kicked him out in 2007/2008 following issues with drugs and his arrest for battery. He got locked up for some period of time (which I haven't been able to find out). So, the band took on a new vocalist, Craig Mabbitt, formerly of blessthefall and The Word Alive. They've since released a second album (This War Is Ours) and are due another set for release in November.

Now, there is nothing, in my opinion, especially distinctive about Escape the Fate. I love them, but they're just a fairly generic post-hardcore band. Nothing wrong with that. So, instead of trying to explain why I like them, other than that I'm pretty much in love with post-hardcore/alternative rock stuff, I'm going to focus on the whole Craig vs. Ronnie debate.

As I just explained, Mr. Radke got kicked out because he got arrested for various things and was basically preventing the band from touring. Fair do's. New vocalist comes on board, new album gets released and suddenly you have a whole bunch of fans who think ETF was better when Ronnie was doing the vocals. I only got into them in early 2009, so I missed the initial reaction, but I can imagine it was pretty huge. Every site I see that has ETF on has this huge debate about which vocalist is better and then you get the majority of sane (but quiet) people who point out that they both have their good and bad points and hey, if the guy's gonna muck around and get himself locked up, the band were hardly going to wait for him. But they're definitely the quiet ones. The loud ones are largely Ronnie supporters (from what I've personally seen) who provide very little support for their assertions that Craig is a crap vocalist other than a lot of expletives and repetition of the phrases "ETF was better with Ronnie", "ETF sucks now", "Ronnie MADE ETF" and numerous variations on them. Some have suggested that the band should no longer be called Escape The Fate because the founder member isn't part of it any more. At which point I hasten to point out that bassist Max Green has also been with the band from the beginning and, from what I can gather, so have drummer Robert Ortiz and guitarist Bryan "Monte" Money.

I have so far refrained from wading into this argument (I don't think it can really be called a debate, with such crappy arguments/evidence) for fear of getting mauled by rabid, pissed off fans. So I'm being a coward and doing so from the safety of my quiet little blog. Here follow my thoughts on the matter. If you're a fan who's likely to get offended by someone else's opinions, you should probably leave now.

I can hear very little difference in the vocals. Yes, I can tell it's two different people, but from Ronnie's on Dying Is Your Latest Fashion to Craig's on This War Is Ours, I can honestly say they both sound very similar. This is not a bad thing - it's good for continuity. Personally, I think Craig's vocals are slightly stronger and he seems to have more range, but other than that... nope, can't see what the problem is. Wow, that was shorter than I thought it'd be.

There's been a slight change in the sound of the band overall between the two albums, but once again, it's nothing major. Anyway, a change in sound is to be expected - you can't expect a band to stay the same for their whole career, it'd be boring. Where DIYLF is mainly straight up emo-tinged post-hardcore, This War Is Ours to me is more varied, with some almost pop-rock moments on Ashley and Something to the heavier tones of This War Is Ours (The Guillotine Part II). This is good - I like variety in an album. And then there's It's Just Me, which I personally think is a brilliant track, but I've seen people label it as too poppy and someone went as far as to compare it to Panic! At The Disco. I love Panic! and I don't think It's Just Me sounds anything like their work.

All in all, this whole Ronnie vs. Craig thing sounds to me like a lot of fans who can't cope with the fact that bands change and that if someone's going to fuck around as much as Ronnie did, the band has little choice but to act as they did. They could hardly wait for him to be released before they went on tour or recorded again, could they? Also, if those fans love his vocals so much, he's part of a new band now - can they not just listen to them instead? Hmm? Right, babble over.

Assorted Escape The Fate links:

Recommended Tracks (album)
Situations, Not Good Enough For Truth In Cliche, The Webs We Weave, Reverse This Curse (Dying Is Your Latest Fashion)
The Flood, This War Is Ours (The Guillotine Part II), It's Just Me, 10 Miles Wide, Bad Blood (b-side) (This War Is Ours)

Randomness: Music Snobbery

Music snobs. How on earth do you define a music snob? I tend to call myself a music snob because I make judgements on other people's tastes in music. On the other hand, I am all for everyone having their own taste in music and I maintain that there is no such thing as good or bad taste in music, just individual perceptions. However, when I see people who only listen to chart music or music which I consider to require very little skill or effort, I can't help but pass judgement on it. And then afterwards, even though I stand by my position on their music, I feel I've been a little harsh.

However, there are people like me, who just make vague "you seriously listen to that?" comments, and then there are people who totally rip into others who, they feel, listen to crap music. I didn't come across any for years and then I joined I was actually horrified to see some of the comments left on the artists' pages regarding their apparently crap music. What really got me though, was that the people doing the snobbing generally had fairly limited tastes themselves. Not that limited tastes are a bad thing, but maybe you should actually consider listening to music before you write it off as crap. I will personally listen to anything once. I might then drown my ears in something loud and screamy to get rid of the feeling, but at least I try. I mean, I even gave Jedward's cover of Blink 182's "All The Small Things" a chance. I was traumatised, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. You will see my trauma if you have a listen: TRAUMA AWAITS

I drowned my ears in Taiwanese Black Metal after that (thank you, Chthonic) because it was loud and shouty and I didn't understand a word of it. This brings me on to my next point. The worst music snobs seem to be from very specific genres. You get music snobs from all genres who will even have a go at bands who apparently give that genre a bad name. Personally, I find the metallers are the worst. And yet at the same time, I've come across metalheads who will listen to anything. But, yes, for a small number metalheads - if it's not really technical metal, it's not good music. Or not even music, according to a very small number I've come across. Following the snobby metalheads, there are the indies. Oh how they make me laugh with their more-indie-than-thou attitudes. Again, it's only a small number, but it ticks me off. There's not liking music and letting people know that you don't like it and then there's being a total arsehole about it. If you don't like it, there's no need to have a go at those people that do.

Hmmm... I think we'll end that there, before I go off on an uber-long rant.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Randomness: My Immortal Mondays

I couldn't resist writing a little something about this. Anyone who's ever read fan-fiction has probably heard of the infamous "My Immortal" written by one Tara Gilesbie. For anyone who hasn't heard of it (lucky sods) it is widely regarded as possibly the worst fan-fiction ever written. It's (loosely) based on the Harry Potter series, but aside from using names and some places, there's basically no similarity between the two. Nothing is in canon with the original series and the spelling (or rather lack of it) is basically a massacre of the English language. Along with the regular descriptions of the main character's clothes, name dropping of "goffik" bands (including, bizarrely, Linkin Park, Good Charlotte and Simple Plan) and the author's notes which normally consist of "Stup flmaming teh srtoy, prepz", there is also that most heinous of crimes - blatant self-insertion of the author as the main character. Oh, yes, the dreaded Ebony/Enoby Dark'ness Dementia Way.

However atrocious the actual (lack of) plot, spelling and complete un-gothicness may be, My Immortal makes for a rather entertaining read. Took me a few attempts to get past the first chapter because I kept wanting to throttle the person behind such an appalling abuse of the English language. Give it a go - you'll see what I mean: There are many lulz, including a cameo appearance by Marty McFly, swearing Dumbledore and possibly literature's worst (and most hilarious) sex scenes. Best line: "And then............ I fell asleep." You'll understand why that's so funny if you read it and find the context.

Moving on to the actual point of this post. If you don't think you can cope with reading this legendary bit of hilarity, I strongly suggest checking out the dramatic readings people have done. Or even the non-dramatic ones. This brings me to the awesomeness that is Aliento. I came across this guy by accident on youtube and dear god, I'm glad I did. Creator of My Immortal Mondays, in which he reads a few chapters of the story, complete with his own annotations, he's just amazing. Imagine how happy I was when a) I discovered there was a My Immortal drinking game and b) Aliento had played it and posted it. Awesomeness, although I wish he hadn't made himself ill doing it - silly thing. Chapter 12, the chapter used for it, is hilarious as it is. Add in Aliento and then make him drunk and it becomes awesome of epic proportions. Watch it, watch it now. And then check back every Monday for another installment. No drinking since Chapter 12, but it's hilarious nonetheless.

I think that's everything...