Archive for the Rock Category

Howards Alias – The Chameleon Script

Posted in Rock on October 6, 2011 by

 Ska Punk; 2002


I’ve been aware of this one for a while. It’s hard-hitting, fast Punk with heavy trumpet riffs that’ll have you banging your head REAL low. It’s lyrics you can (or I can at least) connect with in just about every song. They formed in 1999, as part of an underground UK scene that I’ve heard a couple other bands from and they’re always good. Always. They went until 2008, this is their debut album. I actually haven’t listened to their newer three albums, but I think I heard excerpts from the second and didn’t like it as much. Anyway, this is mind-blowing stuff. The album opens with Rob Wants You Dead, one of my favorites on the album, but every song is high-quality. This isn’t an album where the first three tracks are best then it falls off. In fact, the last two are two of my favorites as well, and with songs like You and The Anti-Life somewhere in between, this is one of the easiest albums I know of to listen to all in one go.

Ska Punk is a genre that I can say I’ve never heard a bad band in. And among all those good bands, Howards Alias really does stand out. Like all Ska Punk, this album is about the riffs. Listen to what the trumpets do in each song. It’s simple but always entertaining.

1. Rob Wants You Dead
2. The Temptress Tales
3. Exile
4. Head-Up
5. The Anti-Life
6. One Wish
7. Last Lung
8. You
9. Doreen
10. Abrade
11. One to One

Stand-out tracks:
Rob Wants You Dead
One to One


Pretend – Bones in the Soil, Rust in the Oil

Posted in Rock on September 23, 2011 by

 2009; Post-rock / Math Rock


I surprise myself when I don’t talk about my life on this blog. I mean that’s the whole idea for blogging right? A public journal (there’s a paradox there. This concept is inherently wrong) to permanently document whatever thoughts I find important. Maybe this just means most of the thoughts I find important are about music. That’s probably accurate on a lot of levels. But. Here’s a little about me. I’m a piano performance major at APU, a private, Christian college in Southern California. I’ve been absent the past two weeks cuz school just got into full swing again and I’m working on finding that delicate balance that allows me time to listen to new music in between playing piano for what should be a minimum of 6 hours a day, being over my unit limit, around 9 hours of work a week, accompanying for the Men’s Chorale (Man Choir) here, homework, and maintaining relationships with people.

This is mood music. My Friday evening consisted of hanging out with my kind of ex and some really close friends. I’m a little still in love. Or maybe a lot. I have no idea. Like at all. I was unfortunate enough to be at her place when her new boyfriend came in. I hung out for a bit and it wasn’t like awkward but I was hurt. And so I left a bit later and came back to my place to wallow in despair a little bit. My Friday night is shot. Only jangly guitars and lengthy instrumentals are worth listening to. So I came here. To a band I found less than a week ago. A combination of Post-rock and Math, but mostly Post. There’s vocals, surprisingly. Math Rock rarely has vocals and Post-rock rarely has vocals so a combination of the two shouldn’t. But it does. And they’re great. I’m listening through this for only my second time so I can’t tell you which songs they appear in and which are entirely instrumental, right now I only remember them in Track 2. But I’m still on Track 2 so… yeah. My first playthrough of this album, I stopped around 6, because jangly guitars and harmonies worth crying over do get tedious, unfortunately, especially if the guitars jangle and sparkle at the same tone, which they do here. Also it’s pretty long. But it’s beautiful. I expect that if I wasn’t gonna go to bed as soon as I finish writing this, I’d be able to listen to it all since I’m in the right mood. My first listen I was playing Halo and it just wasn’t the perfect backdrop. Oh. Track 3 opens with some vocals. This album has really good drumming. I wish their bass was a little louder cuz there’s some good bass lines.

If you were just in the same room as the girl you love(d) and you got to watch her and her new boyfriend cuddle during Star Wars Episode 2, this is the album for you. Otherwise, listen to it anyway. It might seem uplifting if you listen to it with ears that want to hear that.

1. Two-Too High
2. Bones in the Soil, Rust in the Oil
3. Alive in the Tone
4. Those Luminous Noises Are God
5. Legs to Walk Us, to Drop Us
6. Holy Destination
7. Dream Shiver
8. Flairs
9. Guided Spirits – Guilded Souls
10. Spiral Born Black into the Upwards Night

Stand-out tracks:
Bones in the Soil, Rust in the Oil
Those Luminous Noises Are God
Holy Destination


The Number Twelve Looks Like You – Mongrel

Posted in Rock on September 2, 2011 by

 Mathcore; 2007


I love this band. They just recently broke up but they were truly great. It’s all so fast, so crazy. Experimental, like all Mathcore, but there is so much more melody in their music. They aren’t JUST a display of virtuosity and speed on all instruments. They’re too musical for that. “Experimental” recently has come to be defined more by unique rhythms, and the actual tonal parts of most experimental bands amount to atonal clusters. And while I really love a lot of that stuff, 12 is refreshing in their Latin music-inspired interludes, and their sensible chord structures. Still, their line up includes Jon Karel, as underrated as any drummer since Zach Hill, he’s as musical as Stewart Copeland, has as much sense of rhythm as Steve Shelton, and has as much speed as Brann Dailor. The vocals may be harsh for some but there’s sections that are sung and talked as well, maybe people will find those more enjoyable. In Jay Walking Backwards, the mandatory “pretty intro” isn’t just a nonsensical part of the song that lessens the unity of the song as a whole, it’s actually an important part of the song, about a third of its length, and it leads into something greater than these things normally do. Grandfathers’ “pretty intro” is a bit more unnecessary. These vocals are actually really good if you have an ear for it. One more great thing about this album, it stays consistently good the entire way through. You may think that El Pinata Del Muerte will be the album’s high point when you hear it but The Weekly Wars is far better and the last song, The Try, has some really interesting 90’s Prog Metal (think Spastic Ink) melodies. I’ll rephrase, this album isn’t just consistent, it starts off at a high point and finds ways to get higher. I highly suggest looking up Jon Karel’s drumming on youtube. Your mind will explode in a good way that doesn’t make you die.

1. Imagine Nation Express
2. El Pinata de la Muerte
3. Jay Walking Backwards
4. Grandfather
5. Alright, I Admit It… It Was a Whore House
6. Paper Weight Pigs
7. Sleeping with the Fishes, See?
8. Cradle in the Crater
9. The Weekly Wars
10. The Try (Thank You)

Stand-out tracks:
The Weekly Wars
The Try (Thank You)
Jay Walking Backwards


Amesoeurs – Amesoeurs

Posted in Metal on July 11, 2011 by

Post-Black Metal; 2009


Hey. Sorry it’s been 10 days. To be honest the first 8 of them just went by without me thinking about it, and then the last two I’ve had a lot on my mind but finally found some time (and some will) to do this. I’ve noticed I haven’t been listening to very much Metal lately, which made me kinda sad, and I still haven’t but this is an album I’ve known about for a while. I really haven’t listened to Metal since Nadja. I oughta find some new stuff. Anyway. This is French, as you’ll be able to tell by the song titles. The genre is one you may not have heard of but it’s fairly self-explanatory. It combines Post-Rock and Black Metal. Well. It can be argued that the album is mostly Post-rock with certain tracks containing HEAVY Black Metal influence. Track 7 (I won’t bother with the title) for instance is clearly a well-produced combination of the two genres whereas a lot of the tracks on the album contain minimal Metal influence, only taking the most melodic bits of Black Metal (lol?) to use. That’s ok though, Post-Rock is better than Black Metal.

This is another good female singer, I’m noticing I like more of them than I thought. The growled vocals that only appear in one or two songs are done by a guy and the rest are sung pretty sweetly in French by this girl. It’s actually a fitting language for the music, like I can’t see English working with these instrumentals, at least not as well as French. This is pretty upbeat for either of the two genres, it’s nice that this isn’t a generic genre combination. They bring something unique to the table. They’re a hard band to describe. In fact, I think I’ll just leave you to it.

1. Gas in Veins
2. Les Ruches Malades
3. Heurt
4. Recueillement
5. Faux Semblants
6. Trouble (Éveils Infâmes)
8. Video Girl
9. La Reine Trayeuse
10. Amesoeurs
11. Au Crépuscule de Nos Rêves

Stand-out tracks:
Au Crépuscule de Nos Rêves


I Wrote Haikus About Cannibalism in Your Yearbook – Discography

Posted in Rock on June 17, 2011 by

 Screamo; 2010


Don’t let the release year throw you off. This isn’t that new. This band (not typing the name out again) apparently formed in 2005-ish? It’s so hard to find any information on them at all. I’m working off myspace info and a post I found on another blog. But that’s not important except it’s interesting that they hit the Screamo scene fairly late for how traditional, I guess I can say, their sound is. It’s not a million genres inside a screamo shell like other mid-2000’s Screamo bands have been (I Would Set Myself on Fire for You, for instance). It’s Screamo. Different from I Hate Myself though, it’s less emo and more violence.

By the way, I’m not sure if I mentioned this in my review of I Hate Myself, which you should read, but Screamo isn’t Metalcore and it’s not Hardcore and it’s NOT an umbrella term and not all music with screamed vocals is Screamo. In fact, very little of it is. Just had to get that off my chest. Screamo literally has to be one of the most misused terms in music and I hate when people use it wrong.

Back to this. It’s a discography album. Every song they ever released. Some of the songs are re-recordings or rewrites of earlier songs on the album. Actually scratch that. The sound quality actually gets progressively worse on the album. I wanna say that the later songs are older than the earlier songs. The production is bad, which is really just mandatory for any Screamo album, I’m beginning to understand. It doesn’t affect the songs in any negative way. Songs like 19 and its re-record, 12, are different and one has better production than the other but I’m sure there’s opinions of which one is better all over the place. (Btw, I use those two as an example because they have the best lyrics on the album and I want to mention them even though neither will make the stand-out tracks). Now this is difficult to recommend considering the nature of the vocals on this album, but seriously, listen to the lyrics. Every single one of these songs BURNS WITH THE INTENSE FLAME OF A HUMANIZING TRUTH. According to a seemingly random description sentence on their editable biography, their music is feeling and their words are thinking too much and out loud. I hope thinking too much is something we can all relate to. It’s always the best way to hurt more after being hurt. And some of the songs are all about that hurt. There’s a couple of songs that are just a few words or lines long. The lyrics in 6 are “I didn’t cry at my father’s funeral. I couldn’t.” Other songs are about love. When it goes well and when it goes badly. 3 opens with “I will commit suicide at the very peak of our desperate love so it will never get the chance to weaken or fade.” It’s dramatic, sure, but who cares? You never hear love songs like this.

Musically, there’s a lot. It’s hectic. The drums are all over the place, lots of guitar effects and fast picking and when there’s actual guitar melodies, they lack a legato that makes them feel breathless, like the emotions in the song. The screams are high pitched – shriek is a more accurate definition – and CAN NOT be healthy for the vocalist’s voice. Songs like 10 are more about the rhythms than the melodies to be musical, which is an interesting concept. Reminds me of the intro to Bloodmeat by Protest the Hero, for some reason. The chords are all dissonant. It’s sort of experimental, really. This isn’t very accessible. I remember when I wrote about I Hate Myself one of my loyal readers (hah) commented that I made the album sound way better than it actually was. This may be the case here.

1. 1
2. 2
3. 3
4. 4
5. 5
6. 6
7. 7
8. 8
9. 9
10. 10
11. 11
12. 12
13. 13
14. 14
15. 15
16. 16
17. 17
18. 18
19. 19
20. 20
21. Chop Chop, Goodbye

Stand-out tracks:


Nadja – Touched

Posted in Metal on May 30, 2011 by

Drone Metal; 2003


I’ll get to the point. Stays Demons is the reason to listen to this album. It’s Drone but it’s almost a combination of Drone and Shoegaze. It’s actually musical. It has a noticeable melody and it’s a beautiful one, even if it is only 3 chords repeated on the guitar for 10 minutes. This is music. People have tried to tell me it’s not. (Well not Nadja, they were referring to Khanate) But it’s music for patient people who can really appreciate intricacies. It’s 10 minutes of mostly the same two sections of the song’s structure but each time a section is repeated it’s slightly different. Noticing all the musical twinkles and glitter is what will make this enjoyable. Notice how the hi-hat (if I’m actually using my drum terms correctly here, which is unlikely) is slightly off-tempo every now and then. Notice that single note in the higher synth registers that doesn’t change for the whole song and marvel at how it manages to sound good time. Notice how the whispers of the lyrics (the song has one line: “the touch of your hand on my brow stays demons.” I get so much out of that one line with how life is for me right now) add to the ambiance the song creates. So the reason I pick this song out of the 5 as the most important track is because of how it manages to be Metal but beautiful. That’s not a word you’ll often use for Metal. But this. The song is pure Drone Doom. No doubt. I think it’s the fact that it’s in a major key (C Major, to  be specific) is what gets me. There’s very little Metal you’ll hear in major keys and most of it just doesn’t sound quite right. This does. It sounds so right.

The rest of the album. Again, there’s 5. Tracks 1 and 3 are the incessant waves of guitar feedback and no melody but still good songs. Tracks 2 and 4 are the here’s a very prevalent and very awesome melody that we’re gonna play over and over with only the slightest variations in sound and you’re gonna love it without even knowing why tracks. Track 5 is Untitled and unimportant. Frankly, listen to Stays Demons. I don’t care if you listen to the whole album. Just listen to Stays Demons and if you’re interested then go for the rest of the album. I love it, or I wouldn’t have posted it. But maybe without Stays Demons I would love it quite a bit less.

1. Mutagen
2. Stays Demons
3. Incubation/Metamorphosis
4. Flowers of Flesh
5. [Untitled]

Stand-out track:
Stays Demons


Reverend Horton Heat – Smoke ’em if You Got ’em

Posted in Rock on May 22, 2011 by

 Psychobilly; 1990


In short, Psychobilly is defined as a combination of Country and Punk. It’s an accurate definition, this is definitely more those two genres than anything else. Fortunately for everyone, it’s only country musically. Reverend Horton Heat (the stage name of the band’s frontman and the name of the band itself) certainly has a southern twang to his voice (he’s Texan) but it’s not that nasally country bass that most people cite as their main reason for hating Country. If you really can’t stand his voice still, at least listen to the instrumentals on the album – Bullet, “D” for Dangerous, and Marijuana… and Psychobilly Freakout basically counts as an instrumental for all intents and purposes as well. The band has always been a trio, featuring The Rev (not the A7X one) on guitar/vocals, some guy on upright bass, and some other guy on drums. A lot of the time their music will be more inspired by Western music than actual Country but the discrepancies between the genres are few. I think modern Country is an evolution of Western music. Anyway, just don’t let the fact that it’s part Country keep you from giving it a listen.

Actually. I’m gonna do something I haven’t done before. I’m gonna contradict myself. When I started writing this I was going off of memory (it’s one of my favorite albums. I listened to it quite a bit when they were knew to me) and didn’t really think about it. As I’ve been writing I’ve also been browsing facebook and doing other stuff and so I’m on the last song of the album now and only about halfway through the review. And I’ve decided that even though Country is definitely an extension of Western, they’re pretty different, and that this album is mostly Western and Punk and only goes Country on songs like Eat Steak and Big Dwarf Rodeo. The Punk of it all is mostly in the drums. Lots of snare and even more cymbals, like all good Punk. And it’s fast, of course. Well… for the most part. Some songs (Psychobilly Freakout) are more Punk than others (It’s a Dark Day).

Now then. Lyrical themes. Some funny stuff on this album. Bad Reputation is about a girl with a bad reputation (duh) around town who the speaker is interested in. The song ends “You’re the kind of girl I’d like to meet / You’re the kind of girl I’d like to eat.” Big Dwarf Rodeo is about a midget rodeo and Eat Steak is about exactly what the title says it’s about. There’s a lot of jabs at perceived “hillbilly music,” although they’re not a parody band. These guys are obviously into their Western music origins and they write it well. Of course, they’re a Dallas band, so they have a bit of a home-field advantage.

1. Bullet
2. I’m Mad
3. Bad Reputation
4. It’s a Dark Day
5. Big Dwarf Rodero
6. Psychobilly Freakout
7. Put It to Me Straight
8. Marijuana
9. Baby, You Know Who
10. Eat Steak
11. “D” for Dangerous
12. Love Whip

Stand-out tracks:
Psychobilly Freakout
I’m Mad
“D” for Dangerous