2016 March

Adore Life (Favorites) by Savages

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London quartet Savages played their first show 4 years ago.  Since then the all-female post-punk band released some singles then a much acclaimed 2013 album titled “Silence Yourself”.  The band immediately garnered a lot of buzz through their singles and their raucous live performances at high visibility shows including CMJ Music Marathon in NY and Later…With Jools Holland in the U.K.  Savages’ sound has comparisons to Siouxsie and the Banshees, PJ Harvey, Public Image Ltd., and Swans.  They wear their U.K. influences heavily on their sleeves, you can hear that they’re definitely not from the U.S.  I enjoy their modern take on the U.K. punk sound, and while you hear influences from other bands, Savages take these elements to help create their own sound.  They have a dark and brooding intensity that is always lying there under the surface, bringing some mystery and uncertainness into their music.  At times it sounds like they’re barely keeping it from derailing, which is a good thing.  Their sound is not safe and overly crafted; they are an antithesis to bands like Coldplay (not dissing Coldplay, they’re just a convenient example that most can relate to).
I wasn’t overly impressed with their debut album a few years ago, but I only listened to it once or twice.  I will have to revisit it now, because their sophomore album “Adore Life” which came out last week is really good.  It caught me by surprise since I was blasé regarding their first album.  What they offer is the ability to deftly move in and out of slower and faster pieces.  They can also turn the intensity up or down at the drop of a dime, pulling you in or pushing you away as they see fit.  I remember another all-female band that released a similar great album last January – Sleater-Kinney.  If Savages “Adore Life” can end up standing right next to “No Cities To Love” that would bode very well for this London band.  Here’s three songs to check out from “Adore Life”.
“T.I.W.Y.G.” – This song is one of the more intense and faster paced tracks on the album, showing off their punk influences.  The song starts off with some distortion before being engulfed by a throbbing bass line.  The band kicks in with a howling intensity and vocalist Jehnny Beth stays right with the band with her rapid-fire vocals.  As the song continues to wail away, suddenly the band slows it way down for a bit only to bring it back on even harder before the song ends.  This track is a good example of their intensity and how they can turn it on and off with relative ease.

“Slowing Down The World” – This track is an example of their slower, more brooding style.  Again, there’s a nice bass line that drives the song, complemented by a wailing guitar.  The entire band is very tight, with the whole exceeding the sum of the parts.  Jehnny Beth pulls a good amount of angst with her vocals, especially on the wail she lets out almost 3 minutes into the song.

“Sad Person” – This song shows another different part of the band, there’s more of the PiL influence with this track.  Lyrics like “Love is a disease, the strongest addiction I know”,“what happens in your brain, is the same as a rush of cocaine”and “the more you have, the more you crave” gives you an idea about what this song touches upon.  This track is another example of the craft and musicianship that can be found throughout their new album.

10 songs from the last 5 years that need to be in Rock Band

Posted by | Special Requests, Uncategorized | No Comments

For those of you who are into gaming and rock music, you are probably familiar with the Rock Band game franchise on Xbox. The last game in the franchise to come out was Rock Band 3 in 2010. It was known for having many content offerings available for download, which stopped being available in late 2013 but then started up again in early 2015. However, fans of the Rock Band franchise had gotten to the point where they weren’t just looking for new downloadable content for Rock Band 3. They were looking for an entirely new sequel all together. The creator of the franchise, Harmonix, is finally going to satisfy these demands.
It was just announced by Harmonix that Rock Band 4 is in the works and will be released five years after the previous game came out. It is also predicted that it will have all new downloadable content available for gamers to purchase. The great thing about downloadable content in Rock Band is that you can request your own songs to be placed into the game, and then you get to play them yourself. Remember, Rock Band is all about creating your own rock band and living the life of a rock star virtually through your gaming console. But this also gives you the chance to play some of your favorite songs as a rock star and to experience the thrill of having an audience cheering you on as you play it.  
The only thing Rock Band needs to have is newer songs in its downloadable content. In fact, there are ten songs in particular created within the last five years that need to find their way to Rock Band 4 as downloadable content.

These songs are “Bucker Buster” by Viet Cong

“BlockBuster Night Part 1” by Run the Jewels

“Under Control” by the Internet

“Reflektor” by Arcade Fire

“II. Shadow” by Childish Gambino

“We Were Rock & Roll” by Janelle Monae

“Graceless” by the National

“Under the Pressure” by The War on Drugs

“King Kunta” by Kendrick Lamar

“New You” by My Bloody Valentine

Chances are newer gamers from the current generation would have probably heard of these songs and bands by now. If you are an older gamer from the 80s generation then you are probably looking for soft or classic rock.

Either way, you’ll still have a good time playing these songs if they do become available for Rock Band 4.

School of Seven Bells

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The backstory on this album is a doozy…

School of Seven Bells formed back in 2007 when twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza from On!Air!Library! shared an opening bill for Interpol with Secret Machines and met Benjamin Curtis from Secret Machines. The trio eventually left their respective bands to form School of Seven Bells. They released some singles and their debut album “Alpinisms” came out in 2008. They had some success with their debut and by the time they released their second album two years later, it debuted in the Billboard Top 10 Electronic Albums chart. During that tour in 2010, Claudia left the band and her sister Alejandra and Curtis who had been a couple, broke up. That would be enough to end most bands, but no, the duo kept moving along. They released a third album in 2012 which also cracked the Top 10 Electronic Albums chart. Then early in 2013 Curtis announced he had lymphoma. By the end of the year, Curtis had passed away at the age of 35. A few months after that, Deheza released a School of Seven Bells cover of Joey Ramone’s “I Got Knocked Down (But I’ll Get Up)” that was recorded while Curtis was in the hospital. The two had remained very close friends after they stopped dating.

It turns out their 4th album was nearly finished around the time Curtis got sick. Deheza initially had no desire to finish the work to complete the album, she wasn’t in a good place and still grieving Curtis’ death. However, last year she moved out from NY to LA and started work on completing the album with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (who’s worked with Beck and M83). Even though “SVIIB” finally came out recently more than two years after Curtis’ death, he still played a prominent role since most of the work had been completed prior to his demise. In fact, only one track “Confusion” was written after his diagnosis, and it was the last song they worked on together. The album is all about Deheza and Curtis’s relationship. She had the intention from the beginning that she wanted to chronicle their time together. She never actually told Curtis this, but the songs trace the whole arc of their relationship. Deheza stated that during the time they had been working on the album it was one of the happiest times in their lives. That explains why there is so much joy and positivism in most of the tracks. The album stands well on its own given any context, but when you listen to it given what actually transpired it elevates everything up to a whole different level. This album serves as a celebration and remembrance of not only Curtis as a person, but of the decade both of them spent together and the influence they had on each other’s lives.

The three cuts below represent 33% of the album. I won’t tell you where they’re placed on the album, you can listen to the lyrics and see if you can guess for yourself (or just look up the track listing online if you need to know).

“On My Heart” – Classic electronic sound as this track starts up. Deheza’s vocals provide a great accompaniment to the music as waves of synthesizers pulse in the background of the verses. Her singing of “with me your love stays” is the main hook on this track, as it repeats over and over in the latter part of the song.

“Open Your Eyes” – I hear some elements of The Knife in the music part of this track. Knowing how this album transpired, the chorus tugs at the heart. Plus, it’s extremely catchy and it will get stuck in your head. This track is one of the few melancholic ones on the album.

“Signals” – This is hardest hitting cut on the album, showing more of a dance groove. Alejandra’s vocals take on a singing/rap cadence during the verses, hitting right on the beat. This song also features some majestic sounding synthesizers and some nice vocal processing during the choruses. You can also hear some elements of M83 in this song (no doubt from the producer).

Leave a trace by Chvrches on Jimmy Fallon

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CHVRCHES-Tonight-Show1-426x351On a recent episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” Chvrches performed as the musical guests on the show. The song they performed on the show was a single from their album Every Open Eye called “Leave a Trace.” Chvrches claim they had “channeled the forces of the universe” in order to get the inspiration to write the songs of Every Open Eye. Jimmy Fallon is known for bringing a lot of different variety to his version of the Tonight Show. He has become known for giving newer bands and singers a chance to make a name for themselves by allowing them to perform on the Tonight Show. Now that Chvrches has performed their single for the first time on the show, they are bound to gain more fans and popularity in the months and years to come.

Chvrches is pronounced as churches. They are an electronic band from Scotland that was created in 2011. The band consists of three members; Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty and Iain Cook. Mayberry does the lead vocals and assists with the synthesizers. Doherty does the synthesizers, vocals and samplers. Cook does the vocals, synthesizers, bass and guitar. The band came in 5th place on BBC’s Sound of 2013, which is a list that contains promising talent from around the United Kingdom. Chvrches’ debut album was released in September of 2013. It was called “The Bones of What You Believe.” And now, their second album “Every Open Eye” will be released on September 25th, 2015. For a four year old band, they have already released two albums and “Recover EP” on March of 2013. One of their songs entitled “The Mother We Share” was used in that video that opened the 2014 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, which took place on July 23rd 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
If you haven’t seen their performance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” you can find clips of their musical performance on YouTube or through the NBC website. On YouTube, check out the official Tonight Show channel that has authorized video clips from the actual televised show. This is the one that will have the best picture and sound quality as well. Once you listen to their music, you will become a fan of Chvrches right away. Thanks to the internet, it is much easier for new independent bands like this to get discovered. They will probably be watched more on YouTube than they were when they performed on the televised episode of the Tonight Show.  

Nonstop Feeling (Favorites) by Turnstile

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Turnstile has some similarities to FIDLAR by embracing a punk style of music, but they are also very different in their influences and direction.  They have more of a hardcore attitude, and a punk-metal sound.  They hail from Baltimore, which is definitely not SoCal.  They are not as laid back, but they do have some more reflective songs on their album featuring a surf guitar sound.  The band formed back in 2010 and features Brendan Yates on vocals, Franz Lyons on bass, Daniel Fang on drums and guitarists Brady Ebert and Sean Cullen.  After a couple of EP’s, they released their full-length debut “Nonstop Feeling” last year.  I like this album a lot.  Yates sings with plenty of attitude and Ebert and Cullen have a nice guitar sound on the album.  The band does a nice job mixing it up too, so the album doesn’t sound like one type of song repeated 12 times.  Plus 12 songs in under 28 minutes keeps everything moving along nicely.  I’m sure these guys absolutely kill it live.  They incorporate a number of different musical influences into their hardcore sound – metal, grunge and some solid grooves not unlike RATM.  The groove element is what really helps separate Turnstile from other similar bands.  Branching away from the traditional hardcore sound could earn these guys a bigger following in the future.  They even throw a couple of slower instrumentals into the mix. 

Here are three of my favorites from “Nonstop Feeling”.
“Stress” – The final cut on the album and it’s a great way to close things out.  It’s hard not to bounce up and down while listening to this.  This song features some great guitar riffs, locks into some solid grooves and the longer instrumental part at the end is a fine way to fade out on the album.  And Yates has no difficulties conveying “stress” with his vocals.

“Can’t Deny It” – The into part of this track shows another side of the band.  While the main part of the song is still pretty hardcore, this slower and more introspective side comes out in the choruses, even with some softer vocals.  I would say they almost tap into a 311 vibe in parts of this song, but I’m not a 311 fan.  But Yates still gets his voice heard loud and clear during the verses.  This track is a good example of how Turnstile mixes different sounds into their hardcore style.

“Fazed Out” – You can feel the RATM influence rubbing off at the beginning of this song.   This track again moves a hardcore sound into a nice groove and even incorporates a completely metal guitar solo in the middle.  They shift up and down in tempo throughout the song as well, never missing a beat.  And on the album, this track leads nicely into “Can’t Deny It”.

Trent Reznor Talks About Moog Synths in Video Soundtracked by the Haxan Cloak

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The popular American electronic musical instrument manufacturer, Moog Music, is discontinuing any further production on the Minimoog Voyager. This synthesizer was previously released in 2002 and was meant to be an enhancement to their original Minimoog synthesizer. In a recent announcement, Moog Music stated they will manufacture about 600 more units of the Minimoog Voyager before it officially comes to an end. To the layman person, this news probably won’t matter too much because most people don’t create their own music. They just listen to music and enjoy the tunes created by their favorite artists. However, their favorite artists are the ones who are using this kind of equipment. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, for example, has a close connection with the Minimoog Voyager synthesizer. Now that it is being discontinued he will have to either keep using the older one that he still has or eventually find a newer one. This could affect the way he produces his own music, which then could translate into a tune that his fans might not like as much as his previous tunes.
Reznor’s very first synthesizer was the Moog Prodigy. During one of his earlier Nine Inch Nails performances, he got to meet the inventor of the Moog synthesizer Bob Moog. Reznor cites that meeting as the greatest day of his life. On a more recent note, the performer “Haxan Cloak” even used a Minimoog Voyager along with Moog’s newest analog synthesizer to make his latest score. As you can see, there are musicians from a variety of generations that used Moog synthesizers and will likely be affected by the recent discontinuation of the Minimoog Voyager.
Bob Moog is known as the American pioneer of synthesizers and electronic music. He was very well educated in the field of electrical engineering. He had received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Queens College, a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Engineering Physics from Cornell University. His innovative electronic style design has been used in many synthesizers over the years, including the Moog Taurus Bass Pedals, the Minimoog Model D, Little Phatty, Moog Minitaur, the Moogerfooger effects pedals and Sub 37.
In 1970, Moog was given the Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime contributions and achievement within the music industry. Even after his death in 2005, Moog Music continues to be a pioneering company for manufacturing synthesizers used by artists all around the world.