On Repeat: “Branches / Bones” Nine Inch Nails

https://consequenceofsound.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/not-actual-events-ep-stream-nine-inch-nails-new-nin-reznor-listen.png?w=362&h=226This On Repeat is brought to you by reviewing the Not the Actual Events EP. I feel like this is important to bring up because it isn’t my favorite track on this new release, but has wormed its way into the spotlight. So be it.

That being said, “Branches / Bones” is catchy as hell. The high rising terminals in the chorus are as addictive as the claps in “Hey Mickey.” This is not super surprising given Trent Reznor’s clear penchant for pop tunes.

Every. thing. in this track is dripping in effects, which gives the illusion that it’s some sort of grimy masterpiece; when in reality, it’s pretty basic Reznor writing. And overall, this kind of “rah rah” rock song seems to be his make-a-hit go to. Maybe he has been kickin’ it with Dave “Hit Master” Grohl too long (lalala). I’m also growing less and less in love with the Apple Music synth sounds that a lot of his percussive tracks seemed to be infused with. Since I assume he has access to way better shit than GarageBand, I’m going to hope that this isn’t actually what he’s using to compose…but boy, oh boy, do I wonder sometimes. And more importantly, of all the things to leave clean?? *shrugs*

But this brings me right back around, as always, to the point that must always be made when ripping apart a shitty NIN track. On Trent Reznor’s cruddiest, most uninspired day–he is a thousand times better at this shit than most. So when I’m drunk and feeling belligerent, this song will be there to cradle my angst. Just like it should.

3/5

 

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On Repeat: “Branches / Bones” Nine Inch Nails

“All Eyez On Me” Review

https://images.fandango.com/r1.0.40/ImageRenderer/300/0/redesign/static/img/noxsquare.jpg/125515/images/masterrepository/fandango/193741/fnd_mc_alleyezonme.jpgThis was a good movie & I’m glad I got to see it in the theaters…but it could have been better.

For the most part, the casting was done well in terms of balancing actors who look like the real-life people, but are also able to act. My only small gripe was that the chick they cast for Faith Evans was a little too light–I only bring it up because in combination with using her time-appropriate bleach blonde look, it just looked like a white girl & for a second I was like “who is this again” until they started referring to her as Faith. Not a big deal, it was just a little confusing. I was also a little amused at Bonnie Bennett as Jada Pinkett?? Like…let’s look at this…

https://www.macheat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Jada-Pinkett-Smith-Wallpaper.jpghttps://beautyeditor.ca/.image/t_share/MTQ2MTExMzY1OTMxNjA3NDg1/kat-graham-mercedes-benz-fashion-week-2008-1.jpg

I’m not saying there’s no resemblance, but like…was Zoe Kravitz not available?? Let’s move on…

The way they were able to weave the hits into the fabric of the storytelling was well done. Not all music biopics do this well and it has the effect of feeling like a VH1 documentary rather than a cinematic endeavor. I also feel like, overall, they did a good job of showing Tupac as a complex man. This was really important to me because it is a huge part of what makes his music and message so meaningful.

One of my bigger gripes with the film were the general treatment of time transitions. They were spanning quite a lot of time, but they way they set up these cuts seemed a little disjointed. My other meh feeling is about the treatment of his death. Throughout this whole film, we see how his decisions to affiliate with the scarier members of the scene contribute to his untimely death. And yet, in the close of his death scene he has choruses singing like he was some fallen angel who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, when in reality he was involved in a world full of gang members who killed people. Not only is it not surprising that he was murdered, but it’s painful to see his demise almost glorified. Was it terrible that such an amazing artist and poet died well before his time? Yes. But it’s not like he got hit by a bus or his plane inexplicably fell from the sky. He was murdered -very probably- due to his interactions with some very dangerous people. My concern is that young folks will watch this movie and see the glory and fame of the rap game and interpret this choral rise to God scene as a glorification of a gangster death. Like that is some sort of height to be attained. And what we don’t need is any more kids joining gangs and ending up in these same idiotic feuds that killed some of our most talented musicians because they are seeing the 90’s gangster aesthetic reinforced in this film.

If you haven’t seen it in theaters yet, it is at the very least worth hearing some great song bumped LOUD. Also the acting was pretty good. If you have to pay more than $10 to see a movie in your town, then you can probably wait until RedBox. : D

3.5/5

“All Eyez On Me” Review

New to the Library: Not the Actual Events EP-Nine Inch Nails

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9c/Not_the_Actual_Events.jpgBefore I begin to dig into this EP, I would first like to shout out a really great review done on big bad Pfork on The Fragile.

Onwards. I am enjoying the heck out of this record. It is certainly not a groundbreaking NIN album, but if you’ve got a good speaker system or some juicy headphones, treat yourself to the sonic delights of perfectly produced music. Reznor is really good at splitting channels in songs, which doesn’t come to it’s full potential until the listener pops on a headseat and is trapped in an aural teeter-totter. (Side note, this is also a way to hear some lyrics better. On many tracks the wall-of-sound is hard-panned to one side and then the lyrics come out crisp and clear on the other.)

I would also like to take a moment to address some oddities I found on the interwebs before I began: One of his grimiest records since Downward Spiral (wuh-hut??); blasé reviews on The Slip & Hesitation Marks (is. you. doin??); no one ever talking about Ghosts I-IV (bruh.) So for those in the back who weigh in when they feel like having an opinion on a record they half-assed listened to once: fuck all y’all. To me there are only two reasons to have these dumb ideas: you haven’t gotten over Downward Spiral and expect every album to be more of the same (ew) OR you hopped on the wagon because you thought With Teeth was awesome (double ew). The reason why Ghosts I-IV is so important to the catalog is that it concludes the content of the previous albums and ushers in the new era. Essentially, Year Zero is what With Teeth was supposed to be–the capstone to anger and desolation & in the same moment restored fans faith in Trent Reznor. So, everything that has been made since Ghosts I-IV is the new age of Nine Inch Nails. You will need to accept and enjoy complex electronic rhythms, exploration into new genres (world, jazz, funk), and letting your mind meditate in the atmospheric murk if you want to continue to appreciate their albums.

Now that the emotional vomit is out, let’s move on.

  • “Branches / Bones” really showcases the industrial-wall-of-sound that Reznor has been cultivating at least since The Fragile‘s “Starfuckers, Inc.”, if not much earlier. It’s sort of like screaming into a pillow before having a hard conversation and it works as a nice wake-the-fuck-up track.
  • “Dear World,” is so drum heavy it makes it hard to breath. When all the sounds are combined there is no pause, no rest. So when it breaks out into thinner layers it feels like a relief. And right when it stops and you can hear yourself think for a second, in pumps the 2-channel voice layers. It’s very The Slip and very tasty.
  • “She Gone Away” is so rad. I love nothing more than the gravelly bottom of Reznor’s range, yum yum yum. On a more serious note, both the music and vocal arrangements are very reminiscent of Puscifer songs; and I can’t help but wonder if this is what the never-materialized Reznor-Maynard album would have sounded like. The bassline is basic and mesmerizing. If Not the Actual Events is some sort of nostalgia tour then the drum and bass interplay on this track definitely reeks of The Fragile‘s “I’m Looking Forward to Joining You, Finally.”
  • The chanty/yelly vocal parts on “The Idea of You,” oddly enough, remind me a lot of Faith No More. And if Trent whispering in the background ala “Closer” and “I Do Not Want This” is your heaven, then welcome to your next favorite track. AND, for those of you who have been bellyaching about “too much electronic,” here is your bleedin’ rock track.
  • It’s very possible that “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)” is my favorite song of the bunch. The opening stanza “I’m goin’ back/ Of course I am/ As if I ever had a choice/ Back to what I always knew I was/ On the inside/ Back to what I really am” feels like a lyrical home. And on a much more personal note, is really resonating with my ever closer return-of-Saturn. The music is grimey, crunchy and electric. There are also moments where the bass guitar and bass drum drop at the same moment and give that endlessly deep sound I most often associate with the most soul ripping Korn drops (I know, I know, who makes Korn references–but. it. applies.) I always feel a little blah about rock artists imitating fascist rallies ala NIN, Manson, Pink Floyd, etc. Mostly because I have a deep concern about/experience with this being turned by some less critically-analyzing fans into these bands condoning Nazism, which as far as I can tell is the exact opposite of what the artists are doing. But in this case, it’s faint enough that I can kind of stop and enjoy the journey instead of being worried about Reznor acci-encouraging neo-Nazi assholes.

Overall this EP is good. It does have a lot of compositional overlap with previous albums, but it’s enjoyable, not a drag. It feels kinda like a B-sides collection. Who doesn’t love B-sides? My bigger hope is that…does that mean we’re gonna get another tour?? Because man, oh man, does Reznor put on amazing. fucking. shows. *sigh* I guess I’ll just have to cross my fingers, hold my breath, and wish upon a star.

4/5

 

New to the Library: Not the Actual Events EP-Nine Inch Nails

New to the Library: “Grindin’ (Selector Remix)” Clipse

https://verzweigung.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/e77c2-1gbtpfyd1fqoedhbshdt2_w.gif?w=416&h=234I came visiting Clipse in iTunes for the old times, I stayed for the Sean-uh Paul, Bless & Kardinal Offishall sprinkled remix.

In case you were living under a rock in 2002, this was a hot track. But to my dismay, in trying to make a mix I discovered that it was not in my collection. *gasp* So although it is new to my library, it is definitely not new to my heart.

If you’ve never heard it and want to dabble in some turn-of-the-century hip-hop, this is a good one to hit. AND if you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out this Caribbea-licious remix, give it a whirl.

3.5/5

New to the Library: “Grindin’ (Selector Remix)” Clipse

New to the Library: “Jasmine (Demo)” Jai Paul

https://images.genius.com/1e65022a89546a09baad6a2354aa3659.1000x1000x1.jpgI really feel weird doing a “New to the Library” on a track that I got over a year ago…but! life is wild and I am majorly ?blog-logged? Not sure if that’s gonna fly, but either way I have a lot of old shit to sift through…Which brings us to the beloved “Jasmine (Demo)” by Jai Paul.

This song has grown near and dear to my heart, first but not least, because I got it just a wee bit before our larger-than-life Prince passed away. During those first few months I really clung to this song in a “the spirit of Prince will live on” sort of way. At first I thought it was because of Jai Paul’s lean towards breathy falsetto, but I’m realizing that there are a lot more elements that scream Purple Rain & 1999 era Prince. In an interview with Pitchfork, Caribou describes how there are sounds that sort of fly at you out of nowhere and how those sonic surprises make the track invigorating and singular. I also think there is a sort of melancholy that winds through the thumpy bass, noodly guitar, and lilted journey of Jai Paul’s vocal range. If you’re on the fence at first, give it another five listens–trust me you’ll be hooked.

5/5

Saudade Slayage: 9.5/10

New to the Library: “Jasmine (Demo)” Jai Paul

New to the Library: “Bullet Proof Soul” Iron & Wine

https://i1.wp.com/static.stereogum.com/uploads/2015/11/ironwine-gwar.png

I spent a night at work listening to Iron & Wine’s Sing Into My Mouth album on YouTube (sorry Sam, but long gone are the days when my record collection was small enough to add what the fuck ever without listening first & frankly after Ghost on Ghost I’ve become a Iron & Wine skeptic) and really loved it is a whole album, which is pretty rare these days.

The song that really stood out the most was the “Bullet Proof Soul” cover (original by Sade). I stumbled across this album and song not long after diving into a emotional longing that may well turn out to be lifelong. *sigh* Hilariously, the lyrics don’t really speak to that longing–but the music, including the vocal melody, hits that sweet spot of my soul. Sam Beam’s vocal delivery is plaintive and contemplative. And those damn brushes! Gets me every time. Normally I hate twangy shit, but it’s a nice touch here. If you want to feel good and sorry for yourself for five minutes, this track is a nice place to stop and have a beer.

4.5/5

New to the Library: “Bullet Proof Soul” Iron & Wine

March Mash-Up: On Repeat: “I Gotta Feeling (Just Nineteen) (UK Release)” Eagles of Death Metal & “Fader” Temper Trap

March Obsessions was a double header. But unbeknownst to me, there would be another treasure for this blogpost. You see I have had this *totally legal ahem* copy of “I Gotta Feeling (Just Nineteen)” by Eagles of Death Metal for like probably 10-15 years…it’s the only version I’ve ever known. When I sat down to write this post I went “Aha! There is a music video; how neat!” But…the music on the music video was different. I chocked it up to creating the video aesthetic, but my brain couldn’t let it go…why was it so different? All over YouTubes all the versions were this video version, which was distinctly NOT the version I had. After slaving through the interwebs, I found it–what I had was the UK version.

https://images.genius.com/7dbfd4b44c656c0aa319b5ec4d40b1a4.360x360x1.jpgSo onwards. This jam is downright grimy. If your task was to take the griminess of being an old-ass dude trying to/succeeding at getting with a barely-legal lady and turning it into music, and this is what you came up with–go ahead and call it a win.

But pedal effects aside, Jesse Hughes’ vocal style on this particular track…they way he half mumbles lyrics and then jumps suddenly into a confident yelp…it’s perfect. It’s the push and pull of tempered desire.

If I’m gonna be completely honest here, I like the UK version better. Sure, the US release it much cleaner sounding, but I would argue that in the process it loses some of its grit.

https://cbskroq2.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/tempertrap-fader.jpg?w=420And so apparently March was a strange, strange month for me because tied for overkill is “Fader” by Temper Trap. Temper Trap’s release Conditions as whole and this subsequent video for “Fader” just screams 2006-2009 in a way that, I think, only people in their youuuthz of that time can deeply understand. Arguably this is an exemplar of the infectious bittersweet alt-pop-rock that just pounds through your head because not-catchy is not an option ala The Killers, Passion Pit, MetroStation, Shiny Toy Guns, Matt and Kim, etc.

Really, the thing that makes this song and all their songs is Dougy Mandagi’s goddamn beautiful voice. The music is, as stated before, catchy as heck…but this band would’ve gone from my memory long ago if not for his siren voice. I really do mean siren, because lord knows I would not keep listening to this saccharine pop rock if not for him lulling me into submission. That’s it. This whole song obsession is just Dougy Mandagi’s vocals. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth it though! *sigh*

 

March Mash-Up: On Repeat: “I Gotta Feeling (Just Nineteen) (UK Release)” Eagles of Death Metal & “Fader” Temper Trap