Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

Black Widow is set to be released on November 14th, 2014. Genre: Metalcore

Black Widow is set to be released on November 14th, 2014.
Genre: Metalcore

Take Lady Gaga, Slipknot, and a watered down Metalcore sub genre, mix it all up and what do you get? In This Moment‘s video for Sick. Atlantic Records’ new Pop Metal signee’s made their major label debut with this single from their latest offering Black Widow and boy was this slightly unexpected. The video is littered with all theming you would not come to expect in a metal music video such as scantily clad women and choreographed dancing. Did we mention that the band members look like they tried out for Slipknot recently?

Old In This Moment vs. New In This Moment

Old In This Moment vs. New In This Moment

                                                                                        Yes, gone are the brooding angsty Metalcore brats that looked too emo to be true. In their stead is a sleek shiny new Pop Metal monster that could seemingly be fronted by Lady Gaga herself. To their credit, the songs are as catchy as they’ve ever been, and the lyrics are still pretty much simple, the only thing that seemed to have changed is the appearance. Given their immense popularity one can only think that given the opportunity, any previously raw and gritty metal outfit would tidy it up once a major label steps in. Could this be a new thing for emerging “Pop Metal” artists to aspire too? If so, gods help us all.

We all know that Metal is the greatest genre of music ever to bless ears the world over. For the sake of argument (and this article) however, let’s cast that completely unbiased statement aside.

Metal alone has countless sub-genres.

Metal alone has countless sub-genres.

A genre’s origin usually is as touchy a subject as it is complex. Some genres simply took after the names of popular acts (ie: the lore behind the Death metal genre and the band Death), while others are smashups of established genres like Metal-core, the bastard child of Hardcore Punk and Heavy Metal who used Melodic Death Metal as a midwife. No matter the origin, a fight over whether they’re necessary or not is always bound to start a few international conflicts…no? Ok, fine they’ll certainly start a few arguments right?

One the many struggles both emerging and established artists face is defining “their sound”. In a world where making music -of quality or not- is becoming easier and easier by the megabyte, having a flavor unique to one’s own vision could prove to be a precious commodity. The conflict doesn’t revolve around people who acknowledge that fact however, it’s the opponents of genre labeling who whip themselves intoi a frenzy over categorizing music. It is because of these “creative purists” that the need for labeling music and lumping it into genres is questioned.

To their credit, there does not seem to be much of a consensus in regards to what is or isn’t a genre today. A study performed by the authors of Representing Musical Genre: A Study of the Art showed that among 3 internet “genre taxonomies” (,, and only 70 words were found common between them despite having 1,680 genres in total across the three sites. What one person calls something, another person could call it something else and have just as good an argument for how they see it…how confusing.

Nevertheless, there are practical reasons behind genres. The study of music (…or “musicology” as snobby elitist scholars like to call it) is just one of the many reasons genre labeling is important. While musicology is used as an umbrella term encompassing studies related to music, there is no doubt that genres often played an important role in those studies…and did I mention musicology has been around for centuries? Academic observations of music has provided us with tremendous insight into times before we were born. Now where would we be without music, the study of music, and the analysis of various genres?

Click to view a nifty interactive "genre by state" map!

Click to view a nifty interactive “genre by state” map!

While genre labeling has gotten a bit out of hand recently (I’m looking at you Nightcore and Djent), it is important that academics and students of various forms of music are able to do the education, Kanye, and immortalize the multiple varieties of music throughout history by noting genres and their qualities. Much of the vitriol thrown at the subject is a result of self imposed creative restrictions. Instead of keeping a focus on performing the activity that gives them the creative freedom in the first place, artist become swallowed up by critique and think a bit to much about the art…and that should be left to us critics! Simply put, it’s an integral part of music history no matter how much it’s hated, so just learn to appreciate it.

Surprise, a list! Who doesn’t love to list things they love and present them to the public? I’m sure the good people on Facebook land and beyond have seen the “10 Best Stuffs to Stuff” list, the “Top 5 Best Stuffs” and so on. So allow me introduce you to my pretentious little exhibition. Below are 4 albums I enjoy listening to from jump to splat. Yes you read that right, only 4…because fuck lists in which the total number of items are divisible by 5 and/or 10. Also, don’t try to look for a pattern here. This list is in no particular order, and has very little rhyme or reason attached to it.

Ihsahn's 'After' was released January 26th, 2010 via Candlelight Records Genre: Progressive Black Metal

Ihsahn’s ‘After” was released January 26th, 2010 via Candlelight Records
Genre: Progressive Black Metal

First off is After by Ihsahn. If you’re a Black Metal enthusiast, you know this name and the gr1m fr0stbitten cache of epicness that accompanies it and you can skip the next sentence. Ihsahn, as the front man for Black Metal band Emperor, helped pioneer the genre and shape it throughout its satanic birth and infancy. This album was the thematic end to a conceptual trilogy that began with ‘Adversary’ and ‘angL’. After is big sonically, and what I mean by that is that there is a lot of space that you can just feel at times. Sure, Jens Bogren (Mix/Mastering Engineer) added weight where previous album ‘angl’ lacked it, but combined with Ihsahn’s superb riffing and “guitar orchestration”, combined with his knack for always writing the quintessential ‘complete song’, no track on this album is a skipper. As far as I’m concerned it can go down as one as the best metal albums of all time, and can easily top multiple albums across a multitude of extreme metal sub-genres.

Enya's 'A Day Without Rain' was released November 21st, 2000 via Reprise. Genre: New Age

Enya’s ‘A Day Without Rain’ was released November 21st, 2000 via Reprise.
Genre: New Age

Next up is A Day Without Rain by Enya. No, let me stop you here, Sail Away, Sail Away is not on this album, and it isn’t even the actual name of the song. This album is magnificent as that song was. If you are not into New Age music, you may not know what I’m babbling on about…pfft, there aren’t even any guitars on this record, or breakdowns for that matter. Good point, believe me, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Enya had put together an almost flawless body of work again. In the United States along ADWR went 7x platinum, that’s 7,000,000 copies! It helps that ‘Only Time’ was played repeatedly in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Enya effortlessly navigates chord progressions that were arranged seemingly with a patented technique that dates back to the 1980’s. Enya’s works have garnered international praise and accolades, to which I say…no shit.

Daylight Dies' 'Dismantling Devotion' was released March 7th, 2006 via Candlelight Records Genre: Doom Metal

Daylight Dies’ ‘Dismantling Devotion’ was released March 7th, 2006 via Candlelight Records
Genre: Doom Metal

Replace the stringed instruments with guitars, 80% of the singing with guttural death growls, make the lyrical themes darker and you get Daylight Dies’ 2006 effort ‘Dismantling Devotion. No, I did not mean Killswitch Engage, I mean the North Carolina Doom Metal group Daylight Dies. From top to bottom, there is enough meat here to feed every starving organism on the planet. Hyperbole aside, for a sophomore effort DD took no prisoners with these songs. There is emotion, intensity, and aggression within each song. The melodic content from song to song is rich and ripe with purpose behind the brutal death metal vocals of front man Nathan Ellis. I first ran into this band listening to a My Dying Bride station on Last FM. This band’s strength lays in their composition. Once you get past the slower pace inherent in the Doom Metal genre, you will be able to appreciate this record.

Doomtree independently  released this self titled album July 29th, 2008 Genre: Hip Hop

Doomtree independently released this self titled album July 29th, 2008
Genre: Hip Hop

Last, but surely not least, Doomtree’s self titled effort from 2008, Doomtree. I know what you were thinking, but this is not a metal band…sorry. Doomtree is a hip-hop group from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before you go and dismiss these guys, give this album a listen…and I mean really listen. From top to bottom this album, features thought provoking, and introspective lyrics that come across as genuine as all hell. The instrumentals are raw, and gritty but create a 90’s feel that suites Doomtree’s aura. The rappers that make up this group pride themselves on their individuality, and this group of songs captures that thought process completely.

Do you like the feeling of electronic music but don’t like its repetative movements intended for drug fueled dancing? Do you like rock but wish it focused less on being loud and more on soundscapes? Then push play on these bands. You won’t be disappointed.

Žagar This Hungarian Psychedelic/Jazz/Atmospheric/Rock/Awesome band is one to keep an eye on. They always have something going on. Their style is the perfect hybrid of the electronic feel and drive with the beauty of rock and jazz melodies and analog production. The band has a long list of filmography credits and you can really hear it. Wait until the horns come in at around 2 mins. Forget goosebumps. It’s all about the nipple hardening.

Indigo Sun They are my most recent find and my most favorite at the moment. They’re a jazz fusion band disguised behind electronic productions. Definitely worth checking out.

Stateless Such a wonderfully emotional song. Builds up just enough to lock you in. This London based band started out as your generic rock band but they embraced the idea of adding more electronic elements after meeting DJ Kidkanevil at a hip hop show in Leeds. They have two albums out right now on Spotify.

The best part of this Swedish four-piece group, Wintergatan, is that they aren’t electronic at all. There are no samples. Instead they play a range of homemade and unorthodox instruments along with some more conventional ones to create a foreign yet familiarized sound. The lead here is the accordion and oh boy has one never sounded better.
Their popular track Sommarfågel was featured as our Song of the Day back in July.

Jaga Jazzist has been around since the 90’s but have been the forefront of the new age of jazz. These Norwegians take jazz whole heartedly and incorporate every genre and instrument they can come up with. Every song is a new experience. They’re not for everyone but if you enjoy driving beats and head spinning melodies they might be for you.

Incubus okay so they’ve been around for a while and for all intents and purposes, they suck now. Since the line-up changes and their increasingly mainstream standings they haven’t been the same.
If you’re looking for a rocking band that throws in ample amounts of electronic sections they’re a good band to start with. Their earlier work; eg. their first album: Fungus Among Us, is my favorite which resembled the beginning of funk metal but they’ve toned down and tuned out since that work of perfection.

You can check out these bands and some of their other songs on this nifty little playlist I created for all you. I know, I’m awesome, but keep it in your pants you perverts.

Taking the lead from the original Macklemore and Ryan Lewis production promoting same sex relationships; rapper Raykeea Angel Wilson a.k.a. Angel Haze takes up the mic with grammy winner Macklemore, to add some personalization with a first hand account. Her words hit almost as hard as her flow.

She speaks from the heart revealing the unnecessary pain she endured coming to terms with herself. Focusing on the recoil she received from those she believed were closest to her.

It’s all love in the end and this song shows you should never hide who you are or who you love.

It’s love and it’s selfless
It’s yours and everybody else’s
So don’t badger and abuse the solemnly defenseless
See us as yourself, there’s no equality in difference
Until we all get it, we’ll be drowning in the same blood
Despite orientation, we all feel the same love

This track was featured on Upworthy this week.

Be sure to check out her album Dirty Gold available now on Spotify.

Franz Ferdinand's 'Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action' was released August 26th, 2013 via Domino Records.

Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ was released August 26th, 2013 via Domino Records.

Wasn’t 2013 about time for a visit from some friends across the pond? If you answered yes, then you’re right (pun intended)! It’s been about a decade since these guys asked us to take them out, but Franz Ferdinand is back in the swing of things with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (RTRWRA). The quartet from Glasgow waited 4 years since their last offering taking a low profile approach for this release. A lot has changed from the last time we heard from them but despite that, they seem to have rolled right along un-phased.

Right off the bat (pun intended) Franz sets the tone with the title track ‘Right Action’…or do they? Franz is undoubtedly known for their easy going positive vibe and this album has plenty of the feel good stuff, but ‘Evil Eye’ is far from that. Well maybe not that far, these blokes don’t do ‘scary’ very well, even the video almost missed the mark. To be honest, it was just creepy, but let’s digress. The album from then on does not contain anything particularly note worthy in regards to substance. No one song really sticks as you move from track to track, but they do well when taken in context of album as a whole.

Style is what this album does right (pun intended). From top to bottom Franz carries the indie genre well sonically and stylistically. From start to finish the album feels organic and intimate. Album closer ‘Goodbye Lovers and Friends’ is the only track that has the potential to wow listeners (with a proclamation of hating pop music) however. Aside from that, the entire album seems as if the band made a conscious decision to play it safe. After waiting 4 years for a release an apparent lack of effort is what one can gleam from that.

Be that as it may, Franz enjoys a fanbase that possesses eclectic taste and forgiving musical appetites. A stylistically strong album will be enough to satiate current fans. The band is easy to listen to altogether so fans of indie rock in general will find ‘RTRWRA’ easy to flock to and rally around. If you’re looking for something to blow you away however, this isn’t the right place (pun intended) for you to begin.

Rating: 3.75/5
Album Picks: Evil Eye, Standing On The Horizon, Brief Encounters
Album Skips: None

Ryan says: The entire album is available on Spotify where they’ve released an exclusive live album from Avatar Studios!

Everyone loves a great performance by his or her favorite artists; no really, it is true! Hundreds of thousands rush to Ozzfest, Warped Tour, and the like to see their bands tear it up each year, and each year the talent is up to par, or least they are supposed to be. Standing in a sea of people all day waiting for the headliner can become quite a chore when you have to endure horrible support bands…and if the headliners let you down, you would be ready to flip a table. Not all musicians have the stage chops to carry a crowd through a set. However, their god awful on stage performance should not leave you to with the thought that they are god awful musicians overall…wait, let me finish Kanye.

Events like American R&B diva Beyonce’s lip-syncing the American National Anthem and last month’s air guitar scandal at Super Bowl XLVIII leave many with a salty taste in their mouths concerning musical performances. Cynics across the interweb’s social sphere drew the conclusion that the days of live pop performances are over. Fans found themselves doubting the ability of their favorite artists, and others merely chalked it up to the decline of talent in the modern day music industry. Oh ye of little faith. Fret not; you can still enjoy great performances while cherishing the talent behind what you see.

Rock out...hard!

Rock out…hard!

A typical musical act’s purpose is to present a combination of musicianship and showmanship that is as infectious, magnetic, and powerful as possible. In a controlled environment like the studio, focusing such raw unrestricted energy can prove to be a challenge. Modern day tricks like ‘elastic audio’ can fix stray grooves, and auto-tune rules the modern day recording vocalist music, but nothing beats a solid take or two. Reduced labor, computer processing, and the amount of coffee needed for endless nights of editing are benefits of having “one take Jakes” in the studio. Nevertheless, a hybrid will get the job done, and earn a healthier living than the other two one trick ponies.

Read more at: Underground Press


The Marshall Mathers LP2 was released November 5th, 2013 by Shady/Aftermath/Interscope

Guess who’s back? …Back again. Shady’s back, and you should probably warn all of your politically correct friends. Shock-rap’s poster boy has made his long awaited return to the rap game with the release of the Marshall Mathers LP 2 much to the chagrin of all those innocent and pure of heart (laugh along with me).  The 2013 release is a thematic continuation to 2000’s Marshall Mathers LP. This time the rapper looks to put yet another  (and maybe final?) exclamation point on his storied and infamous career.

Album opener ‘Bad Guy’ serves as a proper set up for the journey to come, with added Easter eggs of playing off of past songs. The album spends most of its time bouncing from wall to wall providing few moments of prolonged lyrical consistency. Who are we kidding, though? This is the name of Eminem’s game, and he is one of the few rappers who can pull it off and still make somewhat of a point…some how. Album single ‘Berzerk’ serves to prove that point with gusto, as well as the already controversial single ‘Rap God’.

Such randomness could be a double-edged sword, however. In tracks such as ‘Asshole” and the album’s deluxe edition bonus track ‘Wicked Ways’, Em can tend to let verses over-extend their stay. Fret not, such rare events fail to overshadow the albums strong suits, such as the superb lyricism. Case and point ‘Love Game’ featuring label mate Kendrick Lamar, who by the way easily matches Shady’s multi-syllabic rapid fire offering. Did I mention lyrical targets? There never seems to be a time Em misses a chance to diss Britney Spears, takes a shot at the Kardashians, and what liberal doesn’t love a dig at Sarah Palin? (None…. yes exactly.)

MMLP2 doesn’t slack off in the musical content and production department. The album boasts sonic selections from Dr. Dre, Eminem himself, Rick Rubin and more. Versatility was also a strong point on this album from a musical standpoint. Tracks feature samples and musical adaptations ranging from Lou Donaldson and The Zombies to the Beastie Boys and Naughty by Nature.

Essentially the album is a testament to Eminem’s growth as a rapper, and as a person. There is a sense that Mathers is more at ease with where is at in his life, and you need look no further than ‘Headlights” for evidence of this.  Standout radio ready cuts like ‘Monster’ (featuring Rihanna) will definitely lure in an unsuspecting few new fans and corrupt them. For those already privy to the ways of Em, you’ll hear more of the same over the top word bending mind melting that has been shocking parents the world over for more than a decade now.

Album Picks: Groundhog Day, Love Game, Evil Twin, Survival
Album Skips: So Much Better, Stronger Than I Was

Rating: 3.75/5

Miley doing what she does best...making us wish she was still Hannah Montana

Miley doing what she does best…making us wish she was still Hannah Montana

Each year we’re saddled with MTV’s Video Music Awards, and weeks of being inundated with facebook posts, tweets, and all around gossip surrounding much andticipated reunions, outlandish performances, questionable fashion choices, and eye popping outtakes during the popular awards show. The 2013 VMA’s sure did provide much of the same this year, and has already taken the world’s social sphere by the throat. In 1999 the VMAs “blessed us” with America’s breast dressed rapper, 2003’s kiss, and 2009’s infamous interruption. 2013 now has a moment to call it’s own, thanks to former Disney sweetheart Miley Cyrus…cringe with me.

mtv-vma-2013The 20 year old former TV show starlet turned singer/provocateur has been the butt (pun intended) of a fresh new series of memes after her salacious performance Sunday night. Cyrus took the stage in a odd looking bunny leotard with giant stuffed bears that could also seen in her music video. If that wasn’t enough she continued by being joined by singer Robin Thicke to perform the god fucking awful single Blurred Lines, that’s wrapped in it’s own separate little controversy. The performance featured more of Miley’s “twerking” and less clothes as she felt the need to strip down to a flesh colored two peace.

Did I mention the widespread backlash? You know hell has frozen over when sane people can agree with a point made by Rush Limbaugh, but he was not alone in the media backlash. MSNBC’s Mika Brzenzinski went on a long and passionate shaming campaign on the morning show Morning Joe. Will Smith was also captured with his family during the performance…they were not entertained. The story overshadowed the more positive moments of the night including a performance by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Jennifer Hudson championing same-sex marriage. Sadly such things will more than likely take a back seat to the public display of senselessness Cyrus exhibited. Interestingly enough this is a perfect example of the state of the popular music culture. Performances/breakdowns like this are far from over, and there is nothing more appealing to the American public than a front row seat to a train wreck.

EDIT: Huffington Post decided to do some hard nosed investigative reporting into the picture of Will Smith and family and found that it was not as we all previously wanted thought it to be. Thanks, HuffPo.


Paul Mawhinney is the owner of the world’s largest collection of records. During his years as a traveling paper salesman he amassed approximately 60 thousand records. When purchasing his first house his wife proposed an ultimatum. Either get rid of them -or- open a record store. “You should call it Record-Rama”, she suggested. He did open that store and made it a policy to never sell the last copy of anything making it truly an “archive” of music. Sadly, in February 2008 he was forced to shut the doors to the store but would not let go of the records.

Today, his collection, accurately being hailed as “The Archive”, consists of over 1 million albums and 1.5 million singles.  The estimated worth of the collection is about $50 million. Mawhinney has been trying to find a single seller for the archive for the last decade, but to no avail. His asking price is now painfully, abysmally, at $3 million.

The historic significance alone puts the value of Paul’s Archive upwards of… priceless. The Library of Congress determined that 83% of the collection consists of recordings that are not available to the public. Albums that were never commercially produced or never intended for release. Albums, that if lost, will never exist again. Shown with a mint condition Rolling Stones release. It is truly a heartbreaking thought that these records may have no home one day. It will be a terrible day for the world. What’s worse is that most people will never know the gravity of the loss.

Being the devout music lover that I am I would love to be able to own or even just browse through this collection for days.  Listening to them all would take me more than me, my children’s, and their children’s lifetimes but would be able to be shared through the next five generations and but would still be worth more than it’s weight in history books.

Paul had this to say about the status of the recording industry:

“What really makes me want to save this collection, is the world is dead out there. They have their ears closed. They don’t understand what’s going on at this moment. And it’s going to take them 10, 15, 20 years to wake up and realize what they’ve missed… There’s no comparison for what they’re selling as music these days.” -Paul Mawhinney

He goes on to make a point about how the age of digitization has depreciated the quality of the sound of recordings, mainly pointing at MP3’s, which are notoriously compressed to fit more neatly on iPods and iPhones rather than having better sounding music with more space and better dynamics. Which, if you ask any true audiophile is one of our biggest complaints. So much time, work, and money is poured into albums it is a downright shame to compress them and deplete the value of the recording itself.

Now struggling with complications related to diabetes and now legally blind, he is struggling further to find someone who can care for the collection that is really truly worth being featured in a museum. Or made into a museum itself.

Towards the end of the video Paul gets choked up while listening to the John Mile’s song titled: Music, released in 1976. It’s a fitting outro to this man’s legacy and the archive. Yet an immensely sad ending for both. Both conclusions will appear grim until some deep pocketed music lover or a museum picks up these historic art pieces and stores them for future generations to experience and learn from.