Posts Tagged ‘music’

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” (allmusic.com, amazon.com, and mp3.com) 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.

'The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener' was released independently September 10th, 2013.

‘The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener’ was released independently September 10th, 2013.

Elitists would probably agree that they just don’t make music like they used to, especially in the Progressive Rock arena. Some would say that today’s prog elite is more in to showing off their skill as opposed to using their skill to make good music. Long gone are the days when music possessed the intimacy, the humility, and the raw genuine passion for making music inspired by something else. Fret not; Sigmund Blue is here to fill in the void, no DeLorean required.

Sigmund began as a project between two members but took to full band status with the addition of another member in 1999. Each member recorded their parts separately as the three live in different regions of the United States. Un-phased by such unfortunate circumstances, the trio presented The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener (Eight Deaths) in September of 2013. Eight Deaths is a 1970’s inspired concept album that chronicles the many trials and tribulations encountered by protagonist Delphinium Gardener.

The album opens in spectacular fashion with ‘Overture’, a piano friendly introduction with remarkably familiar melodic trappings. Immediately the goal of the album becomes clear with this “curtains up” instrumental. It is as much of a proclamation of arrival as it is a solid introduction. The melodies that dance throughout the latter stages of the track serve as a perfect lead-in to the track that succeeds it, Charcuterie of Babylon. From then on, Eight Deaths stays the course with a chill-out easy going vibe that serves to put the listener in a state where focusing on the story becomes a natural reflex.

Eight Deaths shakes things up with ‘Can’t Stay’, presenting the first deviation from what the album had previously established as a norm. This is by no means a bad mark on the report card, as the band does well transitioning be a more rock based feel to a song that contains more bounce and pop. After that diversion, the album returns to business as usual until ‘Go Now’. This track is by far the emotional powerhouse of the album. The vocals carry the weight of the songs part in the story with incredible ease and packs enough power to move the listener to tears.

From that point out the journey is much more rocky but the sonic cohesiveness heard earlier in the album remains consistent. The exiting tracks at this point of the album serve as a build up to a climax that sees a rather calm and soothing end melodically. ‘Pod’s Lament’ serves as evidence of this with gusto as there is a stark ramp up in energy. This track sees the band shed the prog rock element for an all out balls to the wall sprint to the finish. It makes the transition to the aptly named album closer ‘Epilogue’ all the more interesting.

The members of SIgmund Blue recorded their parts separately, relying 100% on technology to complete their projects.

The members of SIgmund Blue recorded their parts separately, relying 100% on technology to complete their projects.

The biggest hurdle for this album to overcome, aside from some slightly creepy dialogue in ‘The Meeting’, is the time investment. At 18 tracks and just over an hour and five minutes, there may not be enough meat for the average listener to chew on. Big moments tend to fall flat due to the context of the era that influences the production, but if appreciated properly within said context, it makes for an even bigger set of musical events. Eight Deaths is far out in a good way and all in all, the entire album achieved what it set out to do. Fans of Queen and the Beatles may have something to latch on to here.

Album Picks: Here It Is, Can’t Stay, Go Now, Carbon Copy
Album Skips: The Meeting

Rating: 4 out of 5

studio
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

Free music, can’t get enough of the stuff? Well you’re in luck my friends, because below you’ll find links to some really awesome sounding music, courtesy of Last.fm. Just click the pictures below for a free download of a random track from the artist’s album. Enjoy!

Pierce the Veil's 'Selfish Machines' was released January 10, 2012 via Equa Vision Records Genre: Metalcore/ Post-Hardcore

Pierce the Veil’s ‘Selfish Machines’ was released January 10, 2012 via Equa Vision Records
Genre: Metalcore/ Post-Hardcore

Sabaton's 'Carolus Rex' was released May 12th, 2012 via Nuclear Blast Records Genre: Power Metal/ Folk Metal

Sabaton’s ‘Carolus Rex’ was released May 12th, 2012 via Nuclear Blast Records
Genre: Power Metal/ Folk Metal

The Glitch Mob's 'We Can Make The World Stop' EP was  self-released July 12th, 2011 Genre: EDM/ Dub-Step

The Glitch Mob’s ‘We Can Make The World Stop’ EP was self-released July 12th, 2011
Genre: EDM/ Dub-Step

Best Coast's 'The Only Place' was released June 24th, 2013 via Deckdisc Genre: Indie Rock

Best Coast’s ‘The Only Place’ was released June 24th, 2013 via Deckdisc
Genre: Indie Rock

Free music, can’t get enough of the stuff? Well you’re in luck my friends, because below you’ll find links to some really awesome sounding music, courtesy of Last.fm. Just click the pictures below for a free download of a random track from the artist’s album. Enjoy!

Dear Euphoria's 'Heal My VIolence' was released January 1st, 2009 via Given Productions. Genre: Singer-Songwriter

Dear Euphoria’s ‘Heal My VIolence’ was released January 1st, 2009 via Given Productions.
Genre: Singer-Songwriter

Hungry Lucy's 'Pulse of the Earth' was self-released 2010 Genre: Trip Hop

Hungry Lucy’s ‘Pulse of the Earth’ was self-released 2010
Genre: Trip Hop

Earlyrise's 'What If' was self-released August 16, 2011. Genre: Rock

Earlyrise’s ‘What If’ was self-released August 16, 2011.
Genre: Rock

Hannah Fury's 'The Thing That Feels' was released in 2000 via MellowTraumantic Recordings. Genre: Dark Cabaret

Hannah Fury’s ‘The Thing That Feels’ was released in 2000 via MellowTraumantic Recordings.
Genre: Dark Cabaret

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You don’t need me to tell you of the sorry state of popular Hip Hip (with or without Kendrick Lamar’s antics). Fret not, there are still rappers out there conscious enough to release music that’s a little bit…er…better. Enter Florida native, Anonymuz with Ascencion X, his 5th mixtape, and it is a strong bunch of songs to say the least. Usually you never really know what you will get with a mixtape. They’re often end up as horribly unfocused, trash cans of previously discarded instrumentals that weren’t produced or composed very well in the first place. With Ascension X you’ll find little of that…

'Ascension X' is a mixtape released via datpiff.com Click picture for tracklist and downloads.

‘Ascension X’ is a mixtape released via datpiff.com
Click picture for tracklist and downloads.

This mixtape is surprisingly easy on the ears, and at first listen it’s easy to hear Anonymuz’s radio friendly aspirations. Cuts like ‘The Song That Never Was’ could easily find itself on heavy rotation on a multitude of pop radio stations (and a Game of Thrones reference always helps marketability). ‘Relena X’ is sure to catch younger ears with it’s Gundam Wing sample and does well to showcase Anonymuz’s lyrical ability. There is a distinct upside to the potential Anonymuz has and the fan-base he can attain through his hyper-modern cadence and flow. If this youngster can stand to sit down and write a more focused and solidly constructed album, there is no doubt he will be a force to be reckoned with. There is wit and charm in this mixtape, and a dash of raw emotion that can fuel more fiery songs in the future. Fans of Immortal Technique and DoomTree have something to latch on to here.

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.

Free music, can’t get enough of the stuff? Well you’re in luck my friends, because below you’ll find links to some really awesome sounding music, courtesy of Last.fm. Just click the pictures below for a free download of a random track from the artist’s album. Enjoy!

Jolly's 'The Audio Guide To Happiness Pt1' was released on February  28th, 2011 via EMI Germany. Genre: Alternative Rock/Metal

Jolly’s ‘The Audio Guide To Happiness Pt1’ was released on February 28th, 2011 via EMI Germany.
Genre: Alternative Rock/Metal

Abigail WIlliams's 'In The Absence Of Light' was released September 28th, 2010 via Caroline Distribution. Genre: Black Metal

Abigail WIlliams’s ‘In The Absence Of Light’ was released September 28th, 2010 via Caroline Distribution.
Genre: Black Metal

The Bloody Irish Boys' 'Drunk Rock' was self-released in 2005. Genre: Folk Rock/ Punk Rock

The Bloody Irish Boys’ ‘Drunk Rock’ was self-released in 2005.
Genre: Folk Rock/ Punk Rock

The Antlers's 'Uprooted' was self-released in 2006. Genre: Indie

The Antlers’s ‘Uprooted’ was self-released in 2006.
Genre: Indie

Free music, can’t get enough of the stuff? Well you’re in luck my friends, because below you’ll find links to some really awesome sounding music, courtesy of Last.fm. Just click the pictures below for a free download of a random track from the artist’s album. Enjoy!

Meshuggah's Koloss was released March 27th, 2012 via Nuclear Blast Records Genre: Technical Death Metal

Meshuggah’s Koloss was released March 27th, 2012 via Nuclear Blast Records
Genre: Technical Death Metal


Textures's 'Silhouetts' was released October 31st, 2010 via Listenable Records Genre: Metalcore/Math Metal

Textures’s ‘Silhouetts’ was released October 31st, 2010 via Listenable Records
Genre: Metalcore/Math Metal


Alai Oli's 'Satta Massagana' was self-released December 1st, 2011  Genre: Reggae/Rock

Alai Oli’s ‘Satta Massagana’ was self-released December 1st, 2011
Genre: Reggae/Rock


Kraft Klub's 'Mit K' was released January 20th, 2012. Genre: Indie Rock/Alternative Rock

Kraft Klub’s ‘Mit K’ was released January 20th, 2012.
Genre: Indie Rock/Alternative Rock



Lauren Zettler's 'On Your Back Porch' was self-released Janurary 1st, 2009. Genre: Singer-Songwriter

Lauren Zettler’s ‘On Your Back Porch’ was self-released Janurary 1st, 2009.
Genre: Singer-Songwriter