On Repeat: “Bottom” Tool; “Right Here in My Arms” H.I.M.

https://i2.wp.com/i35.servimg.com/u/f35/18/41/48/62/rs-18710.jpgThis is a hilarious double header. I must say I haven’t been particularly nostalgic for my Sophomore year of high school of late, and yet my music obsessions this month would state otherwise. I have always been way more into Tool than H.I.M., so getting stuck on one of their songs isn’t too surprising. But! There are still a handful of H.I.M. songs that will make my heart go pitter-patter because that voice!! So perhaps this is just the tail end of this summer’s obsession with the “deep” boys of my collection. *shrug*

First up is “Bottom” by Tool. I have never been an enormous fan of Undertow. Is it momentous for 90’s rock/metal? Absolutely. It’s just not my favorite Tool flavor–with the https://i.pinimg.com/736x/30/0f/75/300f757c11b0feba8d5163d72c617713--maynard-james-keenan-james-darcy.jpgexception of “Bottom.” I just cannot help singing along when he screams that first “dead inside.” (As a comical side effect of ripping this album from a friend, I had no idea the spoken part was Henry Rollins until…like this month. So I’ve always been really confused at why Maynard always sounds like such a dipdip in interviews when he sounds so manly here XD …I guess now I know.) Other than Maynard’s gorgeously powerful delivery of this song, I think another drive for my high play count was my recent reading of the lyrics, which I had never bothered to look into before. Frankly, I feel like they perfectly encompass the shitty angst of one’s late twenties. So perhaps I *couldn’t* have enjoyed this song fully until you know…shit started adding up at the bottom. lalala (As a second aside, if you have NEVER LISTENED TO TOOL for the love of God don’t let this be your first song lol. And if it must be, because now you’re curious… just realize that this song came out in ’93…so as cheesy as it may sound to our 2017 ears, it was very, very ahead of it’s time in many respects.)

https://metalshockfinland.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/villevalo.jpg?w=197&h=197Speaking of cheesy, guilty pleasures–H.I.M. Prepare thine guyliner. Can we just…for a minute…*goth drools* I have been very surprised to find that despite not being a 15 year old goth kid anymore, I still love the shit out of H.I.M. songs and I still find Ville Vallo’s pale, druggy-skinny, are-you-actually-a-vampire look really attractive. Honestly, I don’t think I have anything musically interesting to say about this song. They have chuggy, catchy rock/metal(ish) songs, but it’s really just Ville’s voice that carries them into something worth listening to over and over. So if you haven’t had the glorious pleasure of listening to “Right Here in My Arms” before (lol), go check out the video for it. You get to hear this https://i.pinimg.com/originals/bb/7e/60/bb7e60ebfa3929062074095603ad8eb5.jpggreat little jam and see Ville Vallo and the gang in peak goth-stardom sexiness (and pretend he’s singing to you : P).

All in all, there just aren’t that many guys who can go deep, ya know?? I like to appreciate the ones who do. BYE.

Advertisements
On Repeat: “Bottom” Tool; “Right Here in My Arms” H.I.M.

New to the Library: Add Violence EP-Nine Inch Nails

http://assets.teamrock.com/image/8c7153e1-0971-40db-aab8-9c4757a6dc4a?w=800Wow, just wow.

When I got the Not The Actual Events EP, I was happy to have more Nine Inch Nails in my life–especially since it didn’t turn out God awful. But this newer EP, Add Violence, is far superior.

Although I’m still a little confused about the decision to put out two 5-6 song EPs weeks apart rather than just one whole album. *shrug* This EP has so much more soul. So, perhaps the decision to keep them separate was to keep the integrity of these tracks intact…I will say that I don’t think anything conceptually new is happening here, though. It’s more like, wouldn’t it have been nice if The Fragile‘s two discs were Left-Trash Rock, Right-Art Rock? That’s the distinction I see here.

“Less Than” has that juicy bright synth loop that is very reminiscent of Pretty Hate Machine‘s peppier tunes. I’m getting a little tired of the ascending scale melody theme in Reznor’s songwriting, but it is catchy…so I guess that’s a little bit of a toss up. Fortunately, this is it’s only cameo in this EP. *whew* The instrument build up in this song is very well crafted and gives you that “so pumped” feeling ala “We’re in This Together.”

“The Lovers” is another toss up for me. Again, he is implementing a lot of his hey-day tropes–in this instance the whispered spoken word. I appreciate the style in it’s “original” form of “I Do Not Want This,” but here it just feels like the middle aged, high school football hero regaling us of the glory days. I love the sung melody, though; and I do feel the spoken word works as a sort of stylistic counterpoint. So that being said, I’m not sure the song could do without the spoken word even though it grates me. Also, this track is a reminder that Trent Reznor has beautiful song writing capabilities. I would love to hear instrumentals of all these tracks, because they really could stand on their own. It’s really no wonder he has been working on so much soundtracking recently.https://i1.wp.com/cdn3-www.musicfeeds.com.au/assets/uploads/nine-inch-nails-2017-source-facebook-671x377.jpg

“This Isn’t the Place” is so bluesy. Love, love, love. The perfect break up mash: Feist’s “The Limit to Your Love” as drunky, emotional catharsis and then this moody bitch is when you just sit and stew about the bullshit. This is really only underlined by the breathy falsetto vocals that start halfway through. Saudade as fuck; “I thought we had more time.”

“Not Anymore” is raw AF. Reznor doesn’t always do dramatic pauses, but when he does they are perfectly placed. I also love how so many thematic sounds from the last handful of albums get blended into one cohesive monster here. There are so many sonic rabbit holes to explore here. And just when you think you’ve settled into it. Boom!

In pops “The Background World.” I’m not sure the extended noise section was reaaally necessary, or that it necessitated the “album only” buy (such a gimmick btw…I mean unless you’re Bjork’s “Black Lake,” just sit down and let people buy what they want lol). It could have easily ended around the 6-7 minute mark without damaging the whole. What I do love about this track is how both the lyrics and the instrumental pieces metaphorically reflect the consequences-unraveling phase of an event. This is a very hard interpretation to get right, and it seems only fitting that Reznor would be the master of that realm.

Overall this EP is wonderfully solid. Skip your Strawbricks and add this latest NIN installation to your collection. It is definitely worth it.

4/5

New to the Library: Add Violence EP-Nine Inch Nails

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

 

On Repeat: “Branches / Bones” Nine Inch Nails

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: “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