Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crack the Skye

While every year more and more sweep-picking obsessed metal bands grace us with their presence, some stay true to their sound and continue to put out material worth listening to. The new year has proved to be a satisfying year for metal thus far with the release of Lamb of God's Wrath, and as of last week, Crack the Skye by Mastodon.

Two years ago Blood Mountain showed that the band could hold their ground with their quick licks and even faster drumming, but with some more serious songwriting and less focus on the works of Melville. However Crack the Skye is a culmination of Mastodon's ever developing repertoire of material. With Brann Dailor's lyrics based both on dead sister and time travel, the vocal harmonies of Brett Hinds and Troy Sanders, and the overall techinical virtuosity of Mastodon as a unit, they Atlanta natives have created a seven track album is a lead contender for my favorite album of 2009.

The opening track, "Oblivion," draws you in with a the new voice of Brann Dailor, who struts impressive confidence as a singing drummer, and is then immediately backed by Hinds and Sanders on the overly catchy chorus. While the first single, "Divinations," seems to pick up where Blood Mountain left off, in the same vain as "Colony of Birchmen" with intense guitar parts leading into an airy, but engaging chorus. This is what I find to be most appealing about Mastodon.

They are technically sound, but they don't hold back on writing a song for the sake of showing off their shredibility. The songs on Crack the Skye are accessible for even the most novice of a metal fan. They have transcended the side stage of Ozzfest where I saw them first burying their audience with "March of the Fire Ants" and have achieved progressive-metal royalty status.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Catch You Up to Speed

So in case there are those of you who still don't quite understand what a Hipster is, here you go:

They are a rare breed of individuals, but they provide a depressingly unique social standard of living. I will admit to being a part of this pathetic "counter culture." But what is it that makes it so appealing? The everlasting hangovers? The absurd fashion sense that is proudly displayed in even in the most inappropriate functions? Is it the dead end jobs and need constant for self evaluation? Watching this video was a bit of a reality kick in the ass for myself, I won't lie. I think it really hit home during the "rally around a civilian to judge them, hard" part of the video.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Top 10 Songs to Walk to

Having a soundtrack to your walk around campus or downtown is essential, in my opinion. It accommodates a solo trip somewhere and reassures confidence in a powerful stride. Finding the right song to support such an act can be surprising, but is always satisfying. Depending on your mood, these songs can range from a somber acoustic jam to a keyboard thick celebration of dance or maybe even a diminished chord heavy hardcore track. I like having good background music to do people watching in cities, using public transportation, and mostly for judging people unknowingly. My recent top 10 songs to walk to are:

1. Myth Takes- !!!
2. Young Love-The Mystery Jets
3. The Breaks-Kurtis Blow
4. 69 Faces of Love- King Khan & His Shrines
5. Racetrack in France-Gil Scott Heron
6. Drivin' Down the Block- Kidz in the Hall
7. Lovesick- Friendly Fires
8. High Voltage- Eagles of Death Metal
9. Little Girl- Death from Above 1979
10. The Casualty- Cursive

What are yours?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lamb of God Review

Wrath is Lamb of God’s latest release and is one of the most polished albums of 2009, thus far. The sixth effort from the Virginia quintet was worthy of being #2 on the Billboard 200 chart when the album was released. With each album the band reclaims their status as one of the tightest and most consistent metal groups in the last ten years.

They went from minor appearances at New England Hardcore and Metal Fest and New Jersey’s Hellfest, to playing in front of thousands upon thousands at Download Fest in Europe and supporting Slayer on a national arena tour within the last five years. Mark Morton, Randy Blythe, John Campbell, Willie and Chris Adler have created their own form of groove-metal established by the late, great Pantera, and put out album after album of inspiringly fresh metal for shredders and head bangers a like to enjoy.

Wrath still brings the long, exaggerated breakdowns that make you fear for your life when you go to their shows. But this album also has very melodically delicate sections with complementary brutal rhythms from Mark Morton and Willie Adler that is reminiscent of early Metallica .

But they didn’t water down their riffs for the sake of appealing to new audiences or keeping up with up and coming bands. Morton and Adler pull out their chops on tracks like “In Your Words” and “Contractor” to remind their peers of their shred credibility. Chris Adler’s presence on the drums is brilliant, as always, and proves to be just as vital to the songs as the vocals.

Lamb of God would not be the same band without Randy Blythe as the lead singer. His raw phrasing and energy is prominent through out all of Wrath. A true sense of maturity has come to their songwriting over the last two albums. They are one of the few bands that have found a niche in the metal community and stuck to it with each album. However, unlike other bands, they have not put out the same album repeatedly. They have built upon a formula gradually, where the first two albums established their musicianship and the last three have shown exponential growth in their abilities as songwriters.

While the traditional use of half time sections, or “breakdowns,” is overused in most hardcore and metal music these days, Lamb of God maintains a level of classic metal necessity. The songs are Wrath are entertaining for musicians for their virtuosity, but Lamb of God also manages to keep the live audience in mind for what will get a rise out of their fans on tour. The bridge sections on this album stray away from the standard “let’s slow everything down and kill each other in the pit” mentality, and instead deliver a more Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell power-groove break for fans to almost dance to.

By the end of Wrath, you know that you’re listening to Lamb of God and that it’s some of the best work they have released to date. Blythe’s screams are visceral and full of feeling backed with an assault of impressive fret work, while the rhythm section pummels the ears with beats only Chris Adler could think of. Lamb of God has proven again why they have maintained their versatility this long with Wrath.

More titles from Lamb of God, Walk with Me Hell dvd, and Killadelphia dvd.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What Happens When Bros Invade Hipster Culture?

Just Don't Steal my Gil Mantera's Party Dream...

Do you remember when MGMT was first getting notoriety just over a year ago? Or the first time you heard “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend? How about six months later when a kid with side-cocked, white hat said “’Time Pretend' That's my jam man!”? Yeah, I remember that. I remember it very clearly. Large companies and sponsors snatched up bands like MGMT and Vampire Weekend, for national ad campaigns. These bands went on to get submerged into mainstream radio and video play, which in turn planted them amongst obnoxious bro-party jams.
This past summer I visited the hipster mecca of McCarren Pool in Brooklyn for one of their free shows featuring MGMT and the Ting Tings. As I stood in line with my sister and father, I began noticing the abundance of plaid shorts and K Swiss in the line. For some reason it not only confused me but rather infuriated me. As if these bands were mine, and the bros were infiltrating my personal belongings. Granted I was standing in line with my dad, but I’m proud to say that I attend shows with my dad and he has educated pallet for music.

But I don’t go trouncing around in my skinny jeans at OAR or Umphrey’s McGee shows. This is the true ignorant hipster coming out in me. I like bands that have names that you have never heard before that leave people questioning the reality of their actually existence. I like going to shows where people actually dance and don’t spend more time smuggling weed in rather than enjoying the performance of the band performing. It is an asinine rant, but it is a true value of hipster culture.
When hipsters find ridiculously named bands, they want to keep them for themselves. Chances are, those same hipsters will “only like the old stuff.” I find this spectacle of our hipster culture incredibly entertaining. So much so, that a close friend and I have started a game where we imagine bands with absurd names and manifest background stories to tell people about at parties.

For instance, have heard of We Made Sandwiches? Oh you haven’t? They’re really making it in Japan right now. They do this thing where they put a puppy in the bass drum and play double bass until the puppy dies. It is amazing.
My friend and I had a girl on myspace looking for this band for almost a half hour.