Posts Tagged ‘rage against the machine’

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News from the home front

August 11, 2008

Thought I’d explain why I haven’t been writing as much lately.

I’ve been working again, and that has been absorbing a lot of my time, but that doesn’t really last more than…well, at least five hours a day, at most eight, three days a week. Theres still a lot of downtime, but I’ve been either lazy or expressively content enough that I don’t feel the need to write quite as much. I wrote a short story about a month ago. That is a pretty rare thing for me. Maybe I’ll post that here eventually.

I went to Lollapalooza. I was thinking about writing on that, but it wouldn’t be plausible. I would have to write a book about it, so much happened. But at the very least I can say what bands I saw and a little bit about each.

  • Black Lips (Loud, fast, fun.)
  • Rogue Wave (Dull.)
  • Yeasayer (The band to beat for Friday. Only Radiohead beat them.)
  • The Black Keys (Loved em, I guess I should get into them. They are much like The White Stripes, which is my religion, so they’re my type of thing.)
  • Cat Power (Boring. We left after fifteen minutes.)
  • The Raconteurs (Pretty great. Played a long set and were enthusiastic.)
  • Radiohead (Best show I’ve ever been to. They put on a great show, but it mostly meant the world to me to finally see my favorite band live.)
  • Mason Jennings (Pretty boring. Nice little folk songs, but it wasn’t worth my sticking around for it to finish.)
  • The Foals (Pretty fun.)
  • DeVotchKa (The best band of Saturday. Very unique band with lots of heart, and fun live.)
  • Explosions In The Sky (Sounded exactly like the album. Very melodramatic.)
  • Does it Offend You, Yeah? DJ Set (Uh, entertaining enough.)
  • Lupe Fiasco (Not really into that kind of music, but he was fun.)
  • Rage Against The Machine (Played great, but the concert itself was miserable. People were getting hurt bad. I got gum in my hair. Fifty thousand person mosh pit. Not a lot of fun. I left halfway through to see…)
  • Wilco (Great, as always!)
  • Amadou And Mariam (Fun! Sounded great from the lawn.)
  • Black Kids (Horrible. worst “black” band there. Well, only bad “black” band there. I don’t think I was disappointed with any band more than these guys, but then again I didn’t know their stuff when I saw them. I just wanted to complete the “Black Trifecta” as I called it.)
  • Iron And Wine (Mellow. I liked it enough. I was a little bored by the end, but I want to get some albums now.)
  • Love And Rockets: Introduced by Perry Farrell! (Holy freakin balls. Amazing. The left field hit of the weekend. Played a blisteringly loud, fast, hard set. I love their music, and I look forward to getting into them. Great, great show.)
  • Nine Inch Nails (Awesome! their light show rivaled Radiohead’s, and they looked like they were having a lot of fun up there. Very enthusiastic. And a cool set.)

I do have some other things in the works. In particular, a big feature on my favorite EPs of all time. I made a top twenty list and I am progressively writing reviews for the ones I haven’t reviewed yet, and have been re-using old reviews or writing new ones for the ones that I had already written on. I’d expect myself to start posting those one by one soon. I’ve also got a couple other things tucked away that I have been working on in the long term, and I have gotten several new albums lately that I have been listening to. I finally bought the last of the Amon Tobin albums that I didn’t have and I plan on getting to know them better and possibly reviewing some of those.

I leave for college pretty soon. I don’t think that should effect what goes on here really. I’m going to be busy, but at the same time being in a new city where I don’t know anyone is probably going to leave me with a lot of desire to write things down, as I sometimes get. I would expect myself to actually write more once I get there, when I’m not studying, working, or doing whatever else I do.

Just thought I’d assure you that I’m still alive.

-A

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Shuffle Time

August 28, 2006

I saw a guys site (that is now linked from here) where he shuffled his mp3 player and talked about each song. I guess I’ll do that every once and a while. If I’ve already covered the album that the song is on, I will most likely skip it. But I don’t like making rules, because I break them all the fricking time. Anyway, I almost never seem to keep on topic for too long on this thing anyway, so I guess when I’ll talk about a song, what I know behind it, if it’s good or not, whatever else is on my mind.

Pixies – Gouge Away

I’ve really started to like Pixies lately. It seems like I have the fortune of getting interested in bands right after I could have seen them live. Yes, Pixies reunited last year for a tour and it was supposed to be awesome. I feel bad that I couldn’t go. This one is off of Doolittle, a great album, and it is one of the stand out tracks. The band has an uncanny knack for writing great, catchy songs, this being one of their better works.

The debate always rages on; which is better, Doolittle or Surfer Rosa? If you want my say in it I’m going to have to go with Surfer Rosa. But Doolittle is a great album too. It just has a lot of clunkers, some stuff that just doesn’t fit in that well. I’d say Surfer Rosa stays consistant all the way through, but if they could have delivered with stuff like Gouge Away, Here Comes Your Man, and Monkey Gone To Heaven all the way through, it would easily be better.


The Beatles – Blackbird

By the time the white album came out, The Beatles were already one of the most influential bands ever. They could write whatever they wanted and it still would have been well recieved, and they still had money coming out of their noses, so they could do anything. For that reason, much of the white album was spent in a drunken stupor. An interesting drunken stupor yes, but be it through great singalong pop like Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da and weird stuff like Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, the album is just really solid. This song is a break from all the weirdness and such for a few minutes of a tender melody. And that actually happens a lot in this album. The best songs are the ones that stray away from the strangeness and pop to say something straightforward and cool. It’s just a really good song with great words.

The Clash – The Guns of Brixton

When people think punk in the seventies, they almost always think of three bands. The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash. The Ramones invented punk. The Sex Pistols refined it. And most people will tell you that The Clash perfected it. Whatever you say about that statement, The Clash were a great band with a lot of great songs, and they combined straight up angry punk with good hooks. The Guns of Brixton is one that leans a little more towards the anger and the thrashing, but it still has a bouncy thing going on. It’s like you are being told a story by an old crusty rock veteran sailor dude or something. I guess I’m more partial to The Sex Pistols as far as classic punk goes, but this is a great song.

Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation – Tin Pan Valley

Led Zeppelins main man had a solo career with it’s ups and downs, and say what you will about the quality of his music compared to Led Zeppelin stuff, he still sold a lot of records. He came out with Mighty Rearranger, what, was it last year or the year before? Whatever, I saw him and his band in the Auditorium Theater downtown last summer and it was a great show. Granted, he’s old and fat and he can’t hit the high notes very well, but his backup band kicks ass and he can still move around on stage. And he actually played a lot of Led Zeppelin. It’s weird because a lot of times artists that go solo after their initial fame refuse to play their older material from their last band, but I guess Robert Plant just isn’t going to pretend or anything. They played a really funky version of Whole Lotta Love that was very cool, during which he hit an extremely high note. There was some echo on it yes, but it was still an impressive feat for what condition his voice was in. The crowd was actually very cool for what kind of area we were in. It was mostly just cool older dudes, not too many rowdy people. This is the one that got the most radio play I think. It’s okay, it sort of has this mysterious creepy thing going on at first and then it sort of crescendos into this big burly tough rock thing. And he’s screaming his lungs out and his voice sounds shitty. Yeah, his voice is bad but what are you going to do. Cool song.


Santana – Samba Pa’ Ti

I’m a big Santana fan and this is one of my favorites. I actually saw him in concert too, but I was really little. You know, before he sucked. It was on the Supernatural tour, we were out in the grass where all these hippies were smoking weed and stuff, probably not a good show to bring your kid to but whatever, I thought it was great. I doubt he played this. Pretty much the entire song is him doing some great beautiful soloing on a cool relaxing backdrop of beat. That guy can really play guitar, this is one of the best and longest solos I’ve ever heard if I would in fact call it a solo, it’s more just him singing with his guitar.
Nirvana – Ain’t It A Shame

Get ready, because you are about to hear a Nirvana fan go on with a lengthy discussion.

I got the box set, what now… Over a year and a half ago? And out of the four disks that With The Lights Out contains (one of which is a DVD), the first is easily the most strong. What most casual fans or listeners have never heard is Nirvana in it’s earlier developmental stages, which is unfortunate, because I really believe that if you have never heard Bleach or maybe the material from this first disk, you really don’t quite understand Nirvana completely. Yes, Nirvanamania came around just when Nevermind was released and the band did the interview blitzes all over hell and gone and it left Bleach and a lot of the earlier demos and EPs in the dust. Yeah, it was with good reason because Nevermind was just flat out one hundred times better than Bleach, but it wasn’t really all that… Grungy, so much as great run of the mill alternative hard rock. Don’t quote me on that, because yes it was grungy, but theres two kinds of grunge. Earlier grunge and later grunge. Bleach is a classic album of early grunge. Nevermind is a classic of the latter period.

Whatever, anyway, try to acquire this first disk if you can. If you thought Ultramega OK or Facelift were heavy, well shit, this trumps those in the respects of heaviness that they attempt to achieve. Kurt had a thing for Leadbelly, and he did, I think a total of four Leadbelly covers that were recorded, unless I’m mistaken. There seems to be confusion as to whether one of them was actually Leadbelly… But as far as my knowledge takes me, the covers were Grey Goose, Where Did You Sleep Last Night (of course), They Hung Him On A Cross, and Ain’t It A Shame. Ain’t It A Shame was easily the best, it’s just flat out fast hard rock blues, and Kurts little sense of humor was probably satisfied when he got to sing “ain’t it a shame to beat your wife on a sunday/aint it a shame.” One of my favorite unreleased recordings from Nirvana, even if it was a cover.

Rage Against The Machine – Bullet In The Head

Good song with a kicking bassline. I take Orchestra during the school year and I remember my orchestra teacher talking about how people used to think that the fiddle was the devils instrument hundreds of years ago. And there was also some superstition about the devils increment or something, I don’t know, Christian people were weird back then. It’s two notes that have five half steps between them. In this song it just happens to be used. In the conext of the song it’s a straight groove, but play the two notes next to each other and it does sound kind of creepy, like something you would hear in a horror movie. G sharp D. That’s the pattern in this movie, but both notes are played at the same time and in conjunction with the two Es on different octaves it sounds cool for the main bass riff. Not very evil.

This song is just vintage Rage. It’s just good stuff. A lot of what was on s/t was more long and progressive type stuff, and then as their career went on the band started to drift more towards shorter more energetic music with The Battle of Los Angeles. Evil Empire was sort of the in between, it had some really short rockers and a few longer ones. The stuff on s/t just seemed like it meant more for some reason though, even if I like The Battle of LA a lot more. It seemed like each song was more of a thrash symphony for some reason.


Rammstein – Los

For an almost gothic heavy metal band, Rammstein is actually pretty consistant. Usually that genre is just crap, but it’s hard to get better than Rammstein in not just industrial rock but flat out raging metal too. But this one isn’t so angry. It’s off of Reise, Reise which I believe came out in 2004. It’s about the most nonthreatening thing the band has ever written. It’s just a nice little groove really. I mean, I’m sure even they grinned later on when the cool funky little guitar solo comes on. It wasn’t until one of my friends started getting into Rammstein that I actually started listening. Most Rammstein is good stuff to listen to when you are pissed off, but this is just a good tune to flip on when you want to chill, maybe it’s late at night or something. Really, it keeps the Rammstein vibe without really getting angry. Very few other Rammstein songs, if any, can do that.


Dada – Mary Sunshine Rain

It’s kind of hard to explain what kind of band Dada was. They weren’t quite a one hit wonder I don’t think, because they had maybe two or three. And they generally made really good music, if only for three albums. Everyone has heard their biggest hit. It’s the one where the guy goes “I’m going to Disneylaaaand.” It’s good pop, and this is one of the lesser known tracks off of that same album, but at the same time one of the better. I really like what they have going with the guitar here, it’s sort of a twangy subdivided thing. Very overlooked pop, but they weren’t a band that would have had a vastly successful career or anything. But it’s a good song.


Little Hat Jones/J. T. Smith – Bye Bye Baby Blues

There was a movie released in 2001 that was pretty low key. It featured Steve Buscemi among other people and was based on an obscure comic book about two girls who lived in a town full of really droll people living really droll lives and how they dealt with it. Well, this movie was based on that comic book, and while it was a great movie, it was a tad depressing. The soundtrack really struck me. While it also included the movies more comedic tracks too, nine tenths of it was really old blues and swing from the twenties. Steve Buscemi’s character collected old vinyl, so you heard a lot of really great old blues. Bye Bye Baby Blues is one of the more standout tracks, a mellow guitar blues number featuring only the guitar and the voice.

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Audioslave – Audioslave

July 6, 2006

In 2002, a supergroup called Audioslave surfaced with former members of Rage Against The Machine and former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. People were not quite sure what to make of the strange combo at the time. Considering over half the band was born under hip-hop and rap influence as well as classic rock, it would just seem like a bad idea to mix the burly thrash instrumentation with a grunge hero like Cornell. However, despite what critics may have said at the time of this albums release, it is a great record, and it is well worth the time of a fan of either Rage Against The Machine or Soundgarden. What is really special about the music here is that something completely different is born of two already familliar concepts. Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk have experience pumping out rock solid riffs and beats, and Chris Cornell already knows how to write melodic tunes while still screaming his lungs out. And there are examples of both of these qualities all over the place in the music, but at the same time, all of the members strive to make a new sound while still keeping their roots, and what do you know, it works.

The album opens up with probably the most popular track, the loud and powerful wall of fire Cochise. The first thing you will notice here is that the former Rage members haven’t changed much. You could easily hear Zack de la Rocha jump in with a killer rhyme right now, but he doesn’t, and instead we are treated to the voice of Chris Cornell. His voice isn’t quite what it used to be, which is most likely due to his smoking it out. Yes, at the moment he is no longer smoking, but when he was in his prime jumping around the stage, screaming at the top of his lungs, and drinking like a fish, he surely knocked back quite a few cigarettes a day. And he suffers for that now, but it’s a crime to say that his voice isn’t good. Because it still is, but he has said himself that he can’t quite get as excited on stage as he used to. But that’s cool, because as long as he can still throw out great lines and actually mix them with the rap-rock type riffs, like he does with “take it out on me,” no one is complaining.

Show Me How To Live is also a winner, and is another song you would likely crank out at midnight at a gas station, just because it mixes the attitude of thrash and hard rock very well with the principles of alternative and flat out pop. And actually, Gasoline works pretty well too. Putting the echo back on Cornells voice was a very good idea, and that kind of vast rugged feeling will come back again, rest assured. But Cornells vocals actually saved this tune, and if they didn’t, it would be another droll riff that has already been heard hundreds of times before. It’s just to common to go unattended. This exact same situation comes about on What You Are, but this time, the guitar and bass parts are much more mellow. But Brad Wilk will always be there on drums to stop you from falling asleep. That was never even an issue. It’s great that we do have Brad on drums, because he is very experienced in his field and still has the goods to break out a great rock beat.

And then instead of appealing more to the hard rock side of the band, more attension is paid to Cornells masterful hands of creation and a classic pop song is created, Like A Stone. This is exactly the kind of song you would expect to have been released in the nineties while Soundgarden was still a reality, and it holds just about as much power and emotion as the bands smash hit Black Hole Sun did. The pace keeps up very well, and Tim’s funky bass complements it well. And the spacey guitar is the epitomy of loneliness and perseverence. And of course, Chris Cornell makes it a knockout hit with his absolutely brilliant lyrics. Folks, it just doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to Rock. This is the kind of song the record needed, and it’s a relief that Cornell still has the songwriting ability to write songs like this.

And then it bounces back with Set It Off, another hard rocker in the vein of Cochise. And once again, a compromise is made and Cornell leans a little more towards the interests of the rest of the band and yells out some more rugged lyrics. It’s a great song, much better than the likes of gasoline and What You Are, and perhaps even Cochise. But it doesn’t prepare the listener for the next song, Shadow On The Sun. The listener might ask themself, can Tom Morello even do that? Like, put his guitar in the back and push the bass to the front like he does in the verses? Well he does, and it works great. And of course the chorus is still what you got from the earlier tracks, but this is where Chris Cornells psychedelic and melodic influences come in more to form a very nocturnal tune.

I Am The Highway is actually another keeper, and is another very quiet tune, a lot like Like A Stone. And this time, Tom Morello plays a pivitol role without being too loud. His lunar guitar playing is fantastic, when it is accoustic or not. The song just really flows, and it is something that none of the members of the band have really gotten to do before. Needless to say, Rage would never have done something like this, and Soundgarden could probably write something like this, but not play it without being more metallic and tough. So fans of both bands can be very proud of this new ground that is covered.

But I’ll be honest, the band makes a few flubs on the album, Exploder being one of them. The twist of Tom Morellos guitar should be good, but it just isn’t exciting or new enough to justify it being on here. It’s the same riff formula you are already used to, so it isn’t that essential. Like Hypnotize is. This is another priceless track, Driven forward by a rumbling bassline and tight dance beat. Of course we have a layer of Tom Morellos feedback to complement it all. And Chris Cornell gets his voice down very very low and lays on some very cool effects later. Or I should say, Rick Rubin lays down the effects, because he produced the album. Good decision to let him do that, by the way, because he’s a winning producer anyway. Then the guitars sort of do this short little shreds for a little while. Actually, his guitars are even more in the background than anywhere else in the album, save a few cool effects later on in the song. Of course the guitar is very key, but there is no riff so much as there is a set of chords that can be played over in different ways. I have no idea how they got the inspiration for this song, but I’m very curious.

Bring Em Back Alive kind of sucks too. When over half of the band comes from a background where throwing out riffs works extremely well, then why change? Well, the rap overtone works much better on this kind of song. It’s mediocre, and even if I like this album a lot, I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t have weak moments like this. Light My Way kind of does the same thing, and it is still kind of gimmicky because it also throws out the riff and trys to live off of it every minute or so, but it’s actually not too bad of a song. Very funky, very mystical, very nomadic. The entire album gives me the image of some kind of traveler wandering through all sorts of environments in different seasons, continents, and time periods. Like, one second, the traveler is in Egypt or Mongolia or something, and the next second they are in the Dominican Republic or Kenya or something, or some random grassy plain on a sunny day. And highways too, in urban America. That seems to be a reoccuring theme in this record. Theres a lot of talk of Highways and roads and freeways and stuff. As you can see, I sort of have these images for any given song or album from any band. I like the system. Anyway, in this song they even use a clever cell-phone jingle later on, so it keeps it’s individuality in some way pretty well.

Like I said before, each band member of Audioslave comes from an environment where they are used to pushing out in front. So the problem would of course arise where everyone is trying to push forward alone as opposed to letting eachother take turns. But Getaway Car is the perfect indication that the problem can be dealt with eventually. It’s just a generally pleasent little tune. There is no progressive shredding. The most the guitar gets is a pleasant little lonely guitar solo later on. It’s a great song, and should have been the ending tune instead of The Last Remaining Light, and while that song is kind of interesting, it isn’t anywhere even remotely close to comparable to Getaway Car.

Audioslave did not end up being a one shot deal like many superbands end up being. Early last year, Out of Exile was released and sort of showed the exact opposite viewpoint that this album showed in the form of a more bright, optimistic, and diverse set. In my opinion, it isn’t better, but it lets me look at the superior album as if it should be named “In Exile.” The band still isn’t finished either, and the follow up titled Revelations should be released on September 5th. I’m suprised that they could crank out an album at that pace, but hey, it sounds very interesting. I already think I have an image ready for this album too. A big city, with lots of fights, explosions, feelings, and political unrest. One thing that Audioslave has prooved through both of their albums to date is that even if all of the band membrs spend years cranking out tunes, they haven’t finished yet. And with this much room to grow, I’m expecting Revelations to be much better than this, which is a very tough feat.