Friday, November 5, 2010

Poll contenders revisited!

The race between Aesop Rock and A Perfect Circle has been incredibly close in this week's poll. In the interest of encouraging that, because I personally find it cool to see, here's a little more from each of these guys - partially to help everybody make a decision, partially because I love them both.

Aesop Rock



With this track, Aes shows off his real skills as an alt-rapper in a way that hasn't really been shown by the relatively hyper-accessible tracks I've posted from him before. It's just a bit harder to envelop oneself in if you're unfamiliar with his work, but if you dig this track, you'll dig the whole album.

A Perfect Circle



This smooth, slow reflection on recovery and rebuilding is just too damn good. As is typical for APC, sparse, emotional guitars wind around Maynard's emotionally charged vocalizing to build an atmosphere and keep the track moving at an irresistable, though relaxed, pace.



That's it for the week, everybody! Enjoy your weekends! Vote if you haven't! See you on Monday with one of these two as the first post of the week.

More Chemical Brothers to keep Friday rolling

Who's ready for something slightly different? But only slightly.



Hopefully this track jolted you out of any midday doldrums you might be experiencing. It's one of my favorite Chemical Brothers tracks, full of energy and amorphous, constantly building more spastic highs throughout.

Uptempo smoothness to start Friday right

It's Friday! Let's celebrate with some awesome electronica.



I tell you the truth; if the changeup at 1:23 doesn't appeal to you, you're not human. In fact, I think everyone can find something to like about this one.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Breaking Benjamin - We Are Not Alone (2004)



A strong alt-rock sensibility and a very tight grasp on commercial appeal make this album utterly listenable and completely enjoyable, though it does wear thin on a few songs.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

OCRemix to brighten your Wednesday.

While I'm working on my next round of content, I wanted to leave this fun little Satch-esque track for the fun and enjoyment of all.



This week's poll is heating up, with Thirteenth Step and Labor Days trading the lead over the past couple of days. If you haven't voted yet, what are you waiting for? It's over there, at the top of the sidebar, to the right.

Have a great Wednesday everyone. Be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On numbered ratings.

Specifically, on how I'm not going to do them anymore.

This week's poll contenders - Pt. 2

And we're back, with the second half of the poll rundown.  If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out today's first post.  We'll wait until you come back.

...

Oh, good, you're back.  We missed you.  Alright, let's get started.

This week's poll contenders - Pt. 1

The poll I ran last week to determine what I'd post about on Monday was a pretty big success, I'd say. Plenty of people voted, there was a clear winner, everyone was happy. However, I do realize that some of the stuff on the list may be completely unknown to some of you guys, as the readership (and the individual music tastes thereof) has grown quite a bit.

So, today, I'm going to be giving a little taste of each album, one song each, and a little about the music itself. Hopefully, this is as helpful as I imagine it'll be.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Century Mark - 100 Followers!

Well, actually, 102. Lol.

It's sort of a tradition on the blog scene we've sorta built for ourselves to celebrate this milestone, and I'll be honest, I've been waiting to get in on this fun. So, I'm going to talk about music some more - just like I'd be doing otherwise.

As I've mentioned before, Deftones are my favorite band. I started getting into them just as I was starting to get bored of Tool back in highschool. Which is why this track was a perfect transition:



Yep, that's Maynard singing on that track. Which, I think, is why so many people who don't really care about Deftones all that much love this cut - it's a great crossover, as Maynard and Chino's voices weave smoothly around each other, basking in the idiosyncratic styles they both bring to the table.

Personally, I love this track for its strong grasp of dynamics as well - the whole band moves from the calm to the quiet to the storm incredibly well in this song. The raw energy of the bridge really shines through, as well.

Thanks for the continued support, everyone! Keep reading, I'll keep delivering the best content I can.

Tool - Lateralus (2001)



With a blend of ferocity and subtlety, composure and violence, complexity and simplicity, Tool's magnum opus still shines just as strong if not stronger today than it did when it was released nearly a decade ago. Not one moment on this album feels out of place, even after the thousands of listens I've given it over the years.
Rating: 5/5

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Best of the Week: 10/25 - 10/29

I'm out of the office all weekend, but I set up this automated post to show any weekend visitors the best of what went on this week.

Kenna - New Sacred Cow (2003)
In just three days, this review became the most viewed page on the site, and many readers found a new favorite artist!  

Morgan from Kevlar - Father 
 


This soulful little ditty, written and performed by Morgan from Kevlar on the steps of his apartment on the last day of his lease, managed to impress readers even though it was recorded on a cellphone.  A must-watch.

Links of the Week

Rorshach Redemption  - Run by the blogger of the same name, a favorite commenter on this blog.  I've been raving about this thing to my friends in meatspace, the concept is great - Rorshach posts inkblots, while shedding light on the science and history behind them, asking all of us as readers what we see - many have even sent in MS Paint or higher-grade renditions of their visions!  Throw in a podcast that's now sitting at 8 episodes, and you've got an all-rounder of a blog that engages on all levels.  It's a blast to read, and one of my favorites out of all the blogs I follow.

A Vegetarian Mind - My other favorite blog out of all the blogs I follow, run by The Angry Vegetarian, who, as his quality comments on this post show, isn't actually all that angry.  A-Veg is a photographer of my favorite kind - one who isn't afraid to explore the subject with his lens, and capture interesting, unique shots of all types of animals, views, inanimate objects - it's a colorful, crisp whirl of brilliant shots.  And of course, when the shots have a story attached, Veg shows off his ability to spin a yarn in style.

See you all on Monday!

Friday, October 29, 2010

On this blog's gradual evolution, a big thank you, and Friday Links!

My, my, my.  I don't know what to say.  I feel like this has been the best week yet in this blog's relatively short history, and I couldn't be more pleased with how things are turning out.  Let me offer a huge, huge thank you to all of you readers and supporters - you're who I'm doing this for!

A little something for the moment.

My buddy Morgan was working on some new riffs the other day, we caught a recording of one outside his apartment. I remember when he first started the riff, I wasn't paying very close attention -- then I heard him hit the natural harmonics at the end of a bar, and told him "Stop. Start over. We're recording this."


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kenna follow-up, and some metablogging

Yesterday's post on New Sacred Cow sparked some good discussion and good vibes from a lot of the people who commented.  I'm glad to see that, and in the spirit of keeping that going, I'm going to talk for a minute about the album that came next: Make Sure They See My Face.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kenna - New Sacred Cow (2003)


Between the slick production and groovy beats laid down by Chad Hugo of the Neptunes, and Kenna's soulful, smooth crooning, this genre-blurring debut was and is a winner.  Taken as a whole album, Kenna's voice can get a little repetitive at times, but there are enough great cuts on the disc to keep you interested.
Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Parkway Drive - Deep Blue (2010)



Brutal riffing, crushing rhythm section parts, and powerful vocals blend together beautifully on the Australian metal band's third disc to create an excellent overall piece of work.  Expansive and intense, with a concept that engages the mind, this album was a classic from release day.
Rating: 4.5/5


Monday, October 25, 2010

More dubstep because I didn't post a review today.

Sorry for the lack of a review today, guys, been a bit busy. Here's another of my favorite dubstep tracks to make up for it, since you guys loved the Saturday post so much.



This one's a lot more ambient, meditative, and straightforward.  The wobble in this track is very simple, but it's the ambiance I love about this one.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dubstep for your Saturday enjoyment



What I really love about this track is how tightly coiled the production is, the bassline just sears and tears like chopper blades into the mix, and the dark ambience that washes through the moments of relief balance beautifully with that heaviness.

Dubstep classic, in my opinion.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Bonus Flavor: A secret about today's review, some cool blogs, and a small teaser announcement

Okay, so, a little secret from the HQ: Today's review was actually a last minute change-up. Until about 10PM Central Time, an entirely different review that had already been written and prepped was going to go up. That one's been moved to Monday.

It's kind of an interesting story, but a bit long, and I don't want to talk about it too much. What I can say is that it's as much a gesture towards someone who makes me glad to have moved back to my hometown as it is an album hitting my ears just right at just the right time to cause me to flip the script like this.

People who read this blog from Facebook might know who the someone in question is, I'm not sure. Interestingly enough, there's a sharp dividing line between you readers - those of you that get here through Facebook links versus those of you who are fellow bloggers.

Speaking of fellow bloggers, shout outs!

Bublee Art. - An art blog specializing in thought-provoking pieces from both the artist and the artist's life experiences. It doesn't hurt that Bublee's a cool cat, and an asset to the little blogging community that seems to have sprung up here.

Smoke Dank All Day - Let's move past the title, if it's not your bag, and move on to the fact that this is what a random blog is about. Blog maestro Dank, another cool guy on the blogger block, throws a tasty mix of fun web content and personal slices of life out for your enjoyment.

An Undesirable Underground - Comrade Joker's Guy Fawkes-drenched slice of the internet was, when I first started reading, a blog of questions and interaction with the users. It still is, as the good Comrade is a very active member of the sphere, but the last three posts have focused on some David Firth cartoons. David Firth is the guy behind Salad Fingers. Don't know what I'm talking about? Click the link and enjoy.

Things are building fast around here, and I'll be working up a little project when I can over the busy weekend to bring a new touch to the blog, a way for all you guys to interact and help me shape what you want to read.

And that's the week in review, guys. Suggestions? Comments? Praise? Hate? Leave any and all of it as a comment here, as an email directed towards awest147@gmail.com, or as a message on Facebook, for those of you that have me there. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Vengeance Track-by-Track

If you haven't read the main review of this album, you can check it out here.

Wake Up World - Slam, bang, and we are off and running.  The raw vocals, pounding riffs, and overall rolling energy of this track kicks this album off right, firmly establishing the territory we're going to be in and making a valiant attempt at socially conscious thematics, which largely succeeds in this humble reviewer's opinion.  The finish grinds and washes it out.

Nonpoint - Vengeance (2007)



A solid alt-metal album with a strong mainstream sensibility and an eclectic mix of personal styles on the parts of the musicians.  Some parts come off as a bit repetitive and formulaic, but the moments where the music strays off the beaten path make up for that lost ground quite well.
Rating: 4/5

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A video a friend of mine put together, and a little metablogging

A good friend of mine put together this little video of the fun times he's having these days. I love things like this, because even though I wasn't there, it reminds me of all the good times I've had in life while getting a glimpse at fun in the lives of others -- it's a big positive step up of the day when I see stuff like this. Not sure if anyone will like it, but figured I'd share it.


Day Turns Night: Aesop Rock's "Daylight" / "Night Light"

Aesop Rock is kind of an odd case.  He's not underground by any means, but not the most well-known to people who don't seek out his interesting brand of alternative hip-hop, which propelled him to the front of the rising tide of the genre back in the early 2000's alongside the likes of Atmosphere and Sage Francis.

It was during this time, September 2001 to be exact, that he released Labor Days, a hip-hop landmark and widely considered his best release.  Aes was a god.  However, unbeknownst to the public, he had a mental breakdown the month before the album's release, drastically changing his outlook on life.

The first clues the general public got that anything was amiss was the anthemic Daylight EP, released February 2002, and it's first two tracks marked a complete shift of style and attitude for the Long Island-born MC.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Songs Not to Get Married To Track-by-Track

What the Hell is Contempt? kicks off the album with a bang, as driving verses and an epic half-time chorus set the stage, assisted by an assortment of smooth crooning and metalcore screams.  Keeping the epic and somewhat atmospheric elements of the previous track, the more emotional Get Well Soon is a loud dip into vulnerability.  This was the single that propelled the album, and the haunting synth and pounding rhythms keep it fresh and listenable today - quite a feat.

Reggie and the Full Effect - Songs Not to Get Married To (2005)



An excellently done, mature take on the concept of a breakup album, peppered with irreverent humor from band leader/creater James Dewees... to the detriment of the album's overall quality.
Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Social Network Soundtrack Sampler (2010)



Finally got around to checking out the free five-track instrumental sampler for The Social Network soundtrack, produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.  The involvement of these two in the film's score was as much a reason for me to see it as it's near-flawless Rotten Tomatoes rating, and when I saw the movie, the music did not disappoint one bit.  Now that I've had a chance to listen to the first five tracks on the sampler by themselves without the movie to color impressions or distract attention, let's dissect.

When Life Gives You Lemons... Track-by-Track

Things start off with the laid-back, chilled-out Like the Rest of Us.  A great opener, it gets a vague theme going with multiple scenes, a theme which spans the whole of the album.  Puppets builds on the laid-back energy of the previous track while being a fun, almost soulful number before becoming a proper rap track halfway through.  Its follow-up, The Skinny, amps up the tempo and uses a lot of cool synth textures.  Slug raps smoothly in a disinterested speaking voice.  The album starts to take shape here with this tale of pimps and prostitution.

Dreamer is one of my favorite tracks of the release.  Telling a touching story of a single mom making her way through life over the jazzy, emotional instrumentation, the two members of Atmosphere mesh perfectly on this one all the way through to the strong, triumphant final verse.  After that, Shoulda Know comes stumbling in with a sloppy synth lead, bouncy beats and slick rhythmic tricks from Slug.  This song is, simply put, sexy.  Doesn't hurt that it's all about doing the wrong thing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons... (2008)



Great beats and honest takes on the hard side of life alternating between uplifting and optimistic tales and darker rants on the human condition make this alt-rap release a winner, though some bits feel unneccessary.
Rating: 4/5

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Late Breaking News

Sorry about the complete lack of posts this week, guys. It's been one huge life-changing set of days since Sunday. I'm in the middle of a 36 hour drive as I write this.

Regularly scheduled content will continue Monday. Til then, you can follow my trip by following me on Twitter:

@awest147

Also keep checking back here each day for cool links to other stuff on the web.

Thanks for your understanding, everyone. Have a great week.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

OCRemix to brighten your Saturday

Another new review isn't going up until Monday.  I just wanted to share this really cool OCRemix with everybody before abandoning the computer until the end of the weekend. It's metal, its got plenty of fretboard and keyboard shredding. Stick with it through the sound effect intro, its awesome.





Gonna spend the weekend hanging with my cousin, writing new reviews, and getting a little R&R. Promises to be lots of fun!

See everyone on Monday.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why I picked Light Grenades and why Love Hurts sucks.

I chose to review this album over the heads of other, arguably more well-recieved 00s outings from Incubus because this was the only one I hadn't really ever listened to all that much, and since my first two reviews covered albums I've had plenty of time with, I wanted to dive into something new.  I'm not just in this for the nostalgia, there's a lot of music from the 00's that I haven't paid full proper attention or flat-out haven't heard yet, and I want to explore the diverse and prolific period through this blog, your suggestions, etc.

Now, why do I hate Love Hurts so much?

Light Grenades Track-by-Track

This album starts and ends with fuzzy tone poems, and seems to have two distinct movements.  Quicksand starts the first, a downtempo groove with intriguing effects on the instruments and Boyd's signature mid-to-high croon.  This leads into A Kiss to Send Us Off, a song that genuinely wants to be an epic.  It sets the tension up with a quiet, hopeful intro, and hits hard with bombastic riffing harking back to the band's 1997 effort S.C.I.E.N.C.E., playing dynamics to build itself up.  It's honestly my favorite track on the album.

The deliberate move into the more personal and relaxed Dig is a good one, showcasing a little of Incubus' new tricks of the time while still keeping one foot in familiar territory.  Anna Molly follows pretty much the same rules with a more uptempo groove and jangly, crunchy guitar swagger.  Is it any wonder these two songs were singles?  Placed as they are at the front of the disc like this, it keeps your interest quite high for what comes next.

What comes next is Love Hurts.

Incubus - Light Grenades (2006)



The good news: Light Grenades is a decent album.  You'll probably like about half of it.  The bad news?  The other half of the disc.
Rating: 3/5

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On Music, and Why I Love It

I absolutely love music.  And when I say that, I mean it in a way that most people don't.

I love music because even when you take all of the fundamental elements out of focus and just relax your ears, and really hear everything while listening to nothing in particular, music still has a certain moving quality to it.  It pierces through moments of disfocused disinterest.

I love music because of the phenomenon of when a song and a moment collide in just the right way for you to relive that exact moment just as fresh as the day it happened years later.  There's a magic to it, how real the moment it brings back is.

Suggest Music Here!

A big part of what I want to do with this blog relies on the people who read it and comment on it.  All of you who have been following my progress these first 48 hours and helping spread the word and links around, I can't thank you enough for helping me to build a readerbase.  Some of you I've already talked about this particular subject to, but this is my first real announcement on what I want to do here, and the first big explanation as to why.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Link Roundup

In my campaign to become a self-important blogger, I place the community in high esteem.  I also checked my stats from a Starbucks earlier today, but that's more a symptom than a cause of any self-importance I may be carrying around.  Anyway, I read a lot of other blogs and want to showcase the best of them to you guys on the off chance you're interested in the same things I am.

So, for this week, here's three stellar blogs about different things.  No category here, just three really cool blogs.  If you have the time, check them out.  They just might be a new favorite of yours.

The Incident Track-by-Track

This album's concept (putting a human face on detached news reports of tragedies) plays heavily into this track-by-track as an emotional and personal theme, as with any good concept album.

The opening track, Occam's Razor, is fittingly titled.  Through a slow ambient buildup after the initial salvos of chords that start the song, the chord progression of the next track is subtly suggested on a lone low string.  It's hair-raising in a way.  Blind House comes in heavy and vicious, the first real song of the album, with lyrics about the YFZ Ranch providing social context to the pounding, searing riffs laid down throughout the track.  These first two tracks work as a fitting prologue to the rest of the album.

Porcupine Tree - The Incident (2009)



A brilliant concept marvelously executed in an epic-length song cycle.  Not all the lyrical content is rock-solid, and not every song is a winner, but overall a great disc.
Rating: 4/5


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bleed American Track-by-Track

Bleed American's title-track opener fires on all cylinders to start things off.  The heavy riffing of the intro and chorus touches on the alt-rock styles of the time, but in a harder-hitting way than most of the band's emo-background contemporaries.  Jim Adkin's slightly raw vocal delivery and deliciously clever lyricism show off the mainstream alt appeal the band is capable of.

Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American (2001)



With their emotional, atmospheric roots and tight pop sensibility, Jimmy Eat World created a landmark in mainstream alt-rock that still appeals nearly a decade later.

Rating: 4/5

Prologue

Think about all your favorite music that came out in the last decade.  If you're like me, this brings forth wildly diverse memories of songs, artists, times, places, and people.  This decade has been one of the best for music of all time, with the rise of the internet and indie labels as well as alternate means of distribution by major artists allowing a greater creativity and daring in the musicians of the time.

This blog is for reviews of what I consider, and what others submit as, the best albums of the 00s.  A little for nostalgia, a little for the joy of writing, and a little to remind everyone of some of the best cuts that have become classics that they might have left behind over the years.

Class will be starting shortly.