Saturday, November 13, 2010

Band of the Week: P!nk

OK, artist, not band, but I have a slightly pernickety personality. I like consistency, so I'm not changing titles just to fit. Ahem. Moving on.

P!nk. Not exactly a new artist. Her debut album came out all the way back in 2000 and at the time she had a totally different sound. From the more R&B oriented Can't Take Me Home, there was a marked change in her sophomore album, Missundaztood towards a more rock-influenced sound. Missundaztood was the first album of P!nk's that I owned. Someone bought it for me at Christmas one year. I don't remember asking for it and to be honest, I don't think I was all that into P!nk at the time. But that album really grew on me. It became part of the soundtrack to my teenage years. Songs like Don't Let Me Get Me spoke to my teenage angst, as I'm sure they did to others. Missundaztood was a pop album with attitude.

And that's what I love so much about P!nk. She has this amazing attitude. Moving on through third and fourth albums Try This and I'm Not Dead, that attitude moved from angst and anger towards a more grown up feeling. She takes the opportunity to poke fun at the industry as well, which I always love. Tracks like Stupid Girls (from I'm Not Dead) take all that's wrong with celebrity and just take the piss. And then there's the more political side. The beautiful track Dear Mr President (from I'm Not Dead) takes the form of an open letter to then-President George W. Bush, asking just what he thinks of certain situations: the war in Iraq/Afghanistan, gay rights, the No Child Left Behind policy, homelessness among others. The line "How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?" has to be one of the most beautiful, simple lines I've heard.

It's tracks like that which also show the power in P!nk's voice. It shows her versatility - to go from very rock-driven songs, through acoustic and R&B and still she sounds amazing.

I've not listened to Funhouse - haven't got round to buying it yet, but I'm sure, going by the singles, it'll be just as wonderful as the previous three albums. As for Can't Take Me Home, R&B isn't my thing. I've heard a couple of tracks from it and they're undeniably P!nk, but, yeah, not my thing.

Y'know what's really great about her though? She makes fun music. Stupid Girls, Get The Party Started, Trouble, So What and so many others are just fun songs that make you smile, make you dance and make you happy. They're a wonderful balance to the more emotional or serious moments of her music. P!nk gave me the soundtrack of my teenage years and I would be perfectly happy if she'd do the same for the next few years as well.

Assorted P!nk links:
Official Site

Recommended tracks:
From Missundaztood: 18 Wheeler, Don't Let Me Get Me, Numb, Catch-22, Just Like A Pill, Get The Party Started
From Try This: Trouble, Oh My God (feat. Peaches), Hooker, Try Too Hard, Humble Neighbourhoods
From I'm Not Dead: Dear Mr President (feat. Indigo Girls), U + Ur Hand, Fingers, I Have Seen The Rain (feat. James T Moore), The One That Got Away, Conversations With My 13 Year Old Self

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bands/artists I despise: Brokencyde

Bahaha, I had a brainwave for a new post, finally, after a whole day of thinking, "hey maybe I should write a new post?" So, yes, bands or artists I despise. It takes a lot to make me truly hate a band. Most of the time I either like them or I don't and am just generally indifferent to them after that. But some bands and artists... I don't know, they kinda make my skin crawl. Brokencyde is one of them. And no I'm not going to humour their pretentious typesetting. BrokeNCYDE? Seriously?

Obviously, hating them for their typesetting would be immature. I have much better reasons. The fact that they are an abomination of the music world is a rather strong one. Don't believe me? Have a listen. And while you're at it, feel free to watch and cringe. That's if you don't stop the track within the first minute because it's just SO BAD. I'm sure they think they're cool and experimental and edgy, but no. No. It's just heinously bad music.

They classify as crunkcore, generally. I have no problem with crunkcore. Breathe Carolina are kinda crunkcore, as are Family Force 5. I love FF5 and I kinda like Breathe Carolina, so it's obviously not the genre that's the problem. So, let's look at the specifics.

The lyrics are unimaginative, juvenile and in some cases awfully misogynistic. It makes me cringe. And then there's the actual vocals. Now, the whole Autotune/scream contrast is something I know from Attack Attack! and I like it in Attack Attack! But here... the screams are weak and the whole thing would sound better without them. Admittedly, it'd still sound like absolute bollocks, but it'd be a slight improvement.

Then there's the image. This whole scenester thing. Again, I have no problem with scene kids (scenies are a different matter, but they're not the same thing). The issue I have with Brokencyde is that they just seem to be trying too hard to be cool and edgy and badass. "I know, let's have alcohol and smoking in our video! That'll be sooo cool!" Yeah, dude, obviously. It doesn't make you look like an idiot at all.

What really irritates me is that people actual like this shit. Really, really like it and think it's good music. Now, I could see it as a guilty pleasure or maybe if you thought these guys were just in it for the fun (which is possibly true, but that doesn't excuse the awful music). But actually thinking it's good music? There has to be something wrong with you if you think that. I found this comment from a guy on who likes Brokencyde on Escape The Fate's page, regarding ETF's new album:

"not enuff br00t4l hxC Brekdoiwnz!"

I was rather tempted to reply with: "You listen to Brokencyde and a bunch of other bands with no concept of breakdowns, what would you know?" But I worried that a) I would be mauled and b) the correct English might confuse him. I also wanted to point out to him that ETF have never been big on the breakdowns anyway. Ah well. On the subject of why people actually like Brokencyde and their atrocious music, Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low provided one idea in an interview with MTV last year:

"There used to be that whole mentality of ... it had to be 100 percent genuine, or no one would take it seriously. But that whole line has been blurred now," he said. "The same kids listening to Fall Out Boy — who came out of that cred scene, almost — [are the same kids] listening to the Jonas Brothers, and that's acceptable. So the whole line is being crossed. You have all these kids coming up on Disney pop who then discover bands like BrokeNCYDE, and they're like, 'Oh my God, they said f---!,' and they fall in love instantly, because it's their version of '80s punk." 

And you know what, it does actually make sense. Horrible, but logical sense. And at that I will leave this before it turns into a rant and not a coherent semi-argument. Feel free to tell me you like Brokencyde. I may inwardly pity your abysmal taste in music, but it'd make for an interesting discussion.

Assorted Brokencyde links: (hey, I've got to be fair)
Official Site

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Band of the Week: Fight Like Apes

Ahh, Fight Like Apes. Full of mad energy and bizarre song titles, they make music that makes you move. Madly. I discovered them by accident when they played support to The Ting Tings in my first week at uni. I'd missed out on most of the Freshers Week stuff (largely cos I couldn't give a damn about Freshers) so I got myself a ticket to see The Ting Tings at the end of the week instead. This was the beginning of my addiction to gigs, by the way. Anyway, I wasn't expecting anything like Fight Like Apes. I'd only been to pop gigs before - Busted, Atomic Kitten - in medium/big venues. The LCR at my uni holds about 1500 people max. It was brilliant. FLA filled the room with all their mad energy, really got the crowd hyped up. And to be honest, I much preferred their performance over The Ting Tings. As it turns out, I don't really like The Ting Tings that much any more, but FLA... well, I think it's clear I'm head over heels in love with them.

They play a kind of, electro-pop, punk, shoegaze blend. Heavy on the synths and random samples from b-movies (they love b-movies) and infused with a chaotic energy. Vocalist MayKay drifts between shrieking and gorgeous softer vocals. And the lyrics... oh so odd. Wonderfully odd. I only got their second album a few days ago, thanks to the Australian iTunes store finally getting it in. There's a track on there called "Pull Off Your Arms and Let's Play In Your Blood". I kid you not. Thing is though, the synths and the strange sing-song quality to MayKay's voice make it so much less sinister than it should be. If anything, it's funny as hell.

Which brings me to another thing that I love about FLA - they make me smile. They make me laugh. They are the best thing to put on when I'm feeling shit. Take Something Global and Indie Monster - both taking swipes at indie hipster types and so wonderfully funny in the process. Or "I'm Beginning To Think You Prefer Beverly Hills 90210 To Me" - it's chorus consists almost solely of "You're fired" but it makes me smile so much.

My favourites have got to be Battlestations and Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues. Battlestations because it's strangely stress relieving, wonderfully cathartic to just sing/scream along with. Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues because it's such a bizarre, madly energetic track. I do believe it's a cover of a McLusky track - I looked it up and I definitely prefer FLA's version.

Hmmm, what else to say? Other that I'm obviously a complete fangirl about FLA. That's it, really. So, check 'em out, let me know what you think and pass it on.

Assorted Fight Like Apes links:

Recommended tracks:
From Fight Like Apes and the Mystery Of The Golden Medallion: Battlestations, Digifucker, Something Global, Tie Me Up With Jackets
From The Body Of Christ and the Legs Of Tina Turner: Hoo Ha Henry, Indie Monster, Pull Off Your Arms and Let's Play In Your Blood, Waking Up With Robocop, Ice Cream Apple F**k

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Randomness: Super City

Prepare for ranting. Seriously, if you're not interested in my ranting, leave now before you feel the need to batter me round the head. Onwards, folks.

Oh dear fucking god. Do people seriously have such limited taste in music? Not so much limited as narrow. I thought eclectic taste in music was becoming more of the norm now, but McFly's Super City is rapidly persuading me otherwise. I've been toddling around the site for a little over 2 days now and all I keep seeing on other members' "My Music" sections is McFly (understandably), Jonas Brothers, Avril Lavigne, Rihanna, Kate Nash, Lily Allen, Demi Lovato, JLS and other such generic pop acts. I've found maybe two or three people with more alternative leaning tastes. Now, let's think, there's probably about 20,000 profiles on the site now. I've probably seen about 100 in the last couple of days from my mad profile hopping. I'm hoping I've just been missing the people with interesting taste in music. Oh, how I'm hoping.

Now, the 13-16 year olds, I can sort of understand. For some reason, it makes vague sense for teenagers to be into pop. Don't ask me why, it's just the normal state of being. But I'm seeing people my age who like Jonas Brothers. Someone please tell me what the appeal is? Then again, this is coming from a life-long McFly fan, but at least McFly have got a bit more oomph (well, did have up until the new album). I'm not saying everyone should be into alternative and rock and all that jazz, but neither should people be living off the charts. I like pop (some of it) but don't you sometimes want music with just a bit more meaning? Anyone?

Ugh. I'm not entirely sure why this is irritating me so much. I've always been a firm believer in letting people listen to whatever the hell they want. It's probably the lack of variety. Variety is the spice of life, after all. I'll just have to quietly start linking people to awesome music. Starting with Emilie Autumn, because everyone needs a little EA in their lives.

Now, if you'll excuse me and my ranting, I'm going to put Earthtone9's Inside Embers Glow on too loud and cry into my cuppa.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Above The Noise by McFly

'K, so I'm actually beginning to write this before I even have the album. Partly because I'm bored as hell, mainly because I'm ridiculously over excited about getting my hands on the damn thing. OK, so not physically getting my hands on it, because it's a download, but I know what I mean.

Bahahahaha, I have it. Please bear in mind I wrote this after only 2 play-throughs, so I'm bound to pick up on different stuff after I've listened to it a bit more. Also, this is getting posted in a couple of other places, so if it reads a bit funny, that's why. Here goes.

Behold, I actually got my arse in gear and wrote a review for the first time in weeks. Happy times all round. Plus, I’ve been waiting ages for this damn album. Prepare for babbles and rambling and general fangirl-ishness.

Firstly, much as I was looking forward to hearing Above The Noise, I was a little apprehensive. I heard Party Girl months back and I hated it. I honestly couldn’t stand it. It sounded way too much like one of my favourite bands had jumped on the electro-pop bandwagon. I’ve been hoping Above The Noise wouldn’t just be more of the same. I am happy to say that it’s not. It’s made of epic awesome and has totally restored my faith in McFy.

So, OK, it doesn’t have so much of the rock edge that previous albums, particularly Radio: ACTIVE, have had, but it’s not as electro-poppy as I thought it might be. The synth elements are strong, but they’ve been used in harmony with the stronger rock elements. I noticed this particularly on End Of The World, the opening track and this rather set the tone for the rest of the album. Party Girl is still stronger on the electro/dance elements that I would like, but it’s finally started growing me. And hey, it fulfils its purpose – it makes me want to dance. I dread to think what my housemate thought when I was prancing madly around my bedroom listening to it earlier. He already thinks I’m mad (he’s right, but shush). Although, I have to agree with a number of other people – that opening does sound awfully like Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Not necessarily a bad thing, but the fact that when I first heard it, I thought I’d got the wrong thing playing isn’t a good thing either. If U C Kate is a good enough song in itself, but I wish bands wouldn’t play around with the “not-so-subtly-hidden-expletives” in song titles. It’s not original in the slightest, and the song doesn’t really call for it. It’s a lovely, almost laidback track and I’ve noticed a number of people pointing out that The Script have a song called If You See Kay, which was only released in 2008. They could’ve given the track a different, more original name and it would’ve avoided a lot of confusion.

Then there’s the simply magical Shine A Light. Not much to say here – I love it. It’s more like the McFly I grew up loving. So there’s still that electro element, but it’s smaller and it fits nicely into the track. Never thought I’d like a track with Taio Cruz in it, but this song has proved me wrong. Just a stunningly beautiful track.

All in all, a wonderful album. I don’t rate it as highly as McFly’s past work, but I can see it growing on me. A lot. Stand out tracks are Shine A Light, Nowhere Left To Run and This Song. I can’t resist a good 5 minutes plus track.

Current Love: Alkaline Trio - The American Scream

I have no idea why this song is currently so firmly stuck in my head. It's a beautiful track, sad as it may be. It doesn't go in for flowery lyrics, coated in metaphors. It tells it like it is. And that opening verse... says it all really. The yellow ribbon can mean a number of different things: support for troops, a sign for a lover, suicide awareness and prevention. Given the context of the song, the yellow ribbon in the opening line could be any of those three, all of them at once even. That's all I really wanted to say. Just wanted to share this beautiful song with people. You can find the audio here.

"Well they tied that yellow ribbon round the oak tree.
They've worn out all the prayer in their hearts.
All along thought they were routing for the home team,
As they're sent to the game and torn apart.

We twist this tourniquet upon the pipeline,

That he carries all the pain in the world.
As we blindly clap and cheer from the sidelines
It's clear, on a losing streak from the very start.

And that's where they found me,

In the cemetary.
A smoking gun in my hand,
Now I'm damned for the land of the free.
Sing with me,
The American scream.

They took that faded ribbon off the oak tree.

They've worn out all the hope in their hearts.
All along thought I was doing the right thing,
Now I'm lying in a pool of my blood.

And that's where she found me,

In the cemetary,
A smoking gun in my hand,
Now I'm damned for the land of the free.
Sing with me.

And that's where she found me,

In the cemetary,
A smoking gun in my hand,
Now I'm damned for the land of the free.
Sing with me,
The American scream.
The American scream.

And that's where she found me,

In the cemetary,
A smoking gun in my hand,
Now I'm damned for the land of the free.
Sing with me,
The American scream."