New to the Library: “Spanish Death Song” The Builders and the Butchers

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/8Ql4hVJzLB0/maxresdefault.jpgAlthough this is new to my digital library, it is not new to the marriage-merge CD library. But! This creates a nice opportunity to give a shout out to a great little song that helped me through some shit times in Eugene, OR. For whatever reason, the first few tracks of this album (The Builders and the Butchers) became my daily post-Safeway-hell go to. Maybe it’s the nostalgia for the god-awful swine flu that I had in 2009…we’ll never know.

The vocal melody on this track is hypnotic.¬† But I think even more than that, the percussion on this and several other songs on this album is what drives the addiction. They use many different percussive instruments throughout “Spanish Death Song” and it really gives you the feel of being in a live music circle. Which to come full circle, is not that far from the block-surrounding-the-Kiva vibe of downtown Eugene. If you’re into faux-gypsy-indie-clap-alongs, check this one out. : D

4/5

 

 

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New to the Library: “Spanish Death Song” The Builders and the Butchers

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.

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

On Repeat: “I Have Nothing” Whitney Houston

https://verzweigung.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/5de77-whitney-houston-i-have-nothing-lyrics.jpg?w=410&h=215This song is HARD. I don’t mean a fun challenge. I mean it is a belter masterpiece. I have been intensely studying it for about 3 or 4 months and I have ONCE hit the belted high notes. For you non-singy people this is a different ball game from just singing “high” notes at a normal level. For example go try to sing the hook for “Only Girl (In the World)” by Rihanna at full force…kinda hard, huh? This is higher…

When I was pre-gaming for this post I wanted to rewatch this segment of The Bodyguard (the movie this song came from, in case you weren’t alive or live under a rock) and I noticed that the lip-sync performance in the movie does not imitate belting at all, which is utterly bizarre to watch. This prompted me to go watch some live performances on the YouTube to see just how much power she was actually using to sing this song. The answer is a fucking lot.

Which almost satiated my curiosity, and frankly my need for validation that this song is fucking hard…but. Video after video…after video…after video. Even the incredibly talented goddess of melisma HERSELF does not attempt to sing it as recorded for the studio album. In every live performance I’ve watched so far, they drop the key. This results in the song not sounding that much different, and to the average pop listener maybe not noticeable at all, but makes it much easier on the vocal chords because she doesn’t have to leap up to that incredible note on “close” of “don’t make me close one more door” while still leaping to a slightly more manageable note and sounding incredible (because she is). It’s a musical illusion that saves voices and embarrassment. (And by the way Rihanna does the same thing in her live performances of “Only Girl.”)

I bring this up not to disparage the approach, but rather to reinforce that these studio vocal gymnastics are HARD. We have no idea how many times it took these professionals to reach up there and make it happen for the record, so it’s kind of foolish to say “oh I’m no (insert Diva here)” –you might be!! Even they don’t hit those spectacular notes on most days, or reliably enough to bet on it in a live setting.

This is why “I Have Nothing” is such a demanding song that I obsess over. The crown jewel of The Bodyguard, her cover of “I Will Always Love You,” is beautiful and challenging in its own way; but “I Have Nothing” is the more stunning of the two. The gentle piano harmonies, the punching horns, all just caress the roller coaster of emotions. But to be honest, the musical accompaniment could be a dump truck pouring trash and I wouldn’t give a fuck–that voice is all I hear.

If you’ve never had the privilege, check out some of these live performances–she is brilliant.

5/5

Black Girl Magic: We go to 11.

On Repeat: “I Have Nothing” Whitney Houston

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

“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??); blas√© 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