Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Song Highlight: Armchair Martian - You Deserve This

 

When I consider the songs that had a profound impact on my life, and ones that made me a music enthusiast, the music of Armchair Martian sits towards the top of the list. It was 2007 and I was midway through college. A friend of mine was introducing me to the world of punk rock outside of The Clash and The Ramones. In particular, he showed me Bad Astronaut’s cover of the seminal NOFX song, "Linoleum". Bad Astronaut was the side project of Joey Cape, the singer of the California skate punk band Lagwagon. Cape wanted an avenue to be more exploratory with the music he was writing, and work beyond the confines of the punk that Lagwagon was playing (the members of Lagwagon would balk at the notion of incorporating a keyboard into a song). Bad Astronaut’s version of Linoleum is less abrasive, and slower, focused more around Cape’s great voice, and mounts to an explosive second half. I loved it and I was immediately looking for more of Bad Astronaut's music, which brought me to War of the Worlds, a split album between Bad Astronaut and Armchair Martian, where each band played the other's songs. 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Song Highlight: Black Sheep Wall - Metallica

It is hard to write a compelling 33 minute song, especially if the song features a handful of repeating guitar riffs extending ad nauseam. Remarkably, this is exactly what the Southern California-based sludge metal band Black Sheep Wall have done with the song “Metallica.” The song is of their 2015 album I’m Going to Kill Myself, which features memorable album art of two colorful monsters, as if out of a children's book, with one telling the other “I’m going to kill myself.”

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Song Highlight: Nine of Swords - Wild Strawberries

As I have started to get older, I yearn for bands to play shorter sets, such that I can get home from a show at a more reasonable hour (better for a set to be short and sweet than to drag on). And to go along with this, I sometimes find myself wishing that a show will not have very many opening acts, so things can progress to the headliner more quickly. I need to stop wishing this, as I have discovered so many amazing bands/artists playing as opening acts. Case in point, I recently was introduced to the incredible hardcore band Nine of Swords when they opened for Portrayal of Guilt.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Song Highlight: Timeshares - Ladder

About 10 years ago, I first heard the Menzingers as an opening act for The Bouncing Souls. The Menzingers were the highlight of that show, and they have gone on to become one of my favorite melodic punk bands. This month I saw the Menzingers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, almost 10 years later. The highlight of this show was their first opening act, a New York state punk band called Timeshares. They combine the punk aggression of early Menzingers material with some alternative country leanings, ala the Drive By Truckers. Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know that I have a special affinity for rock music with a country-tinge to it. Hearing a sorrowful twang in their music was cause for much excitement, and I went home and bought some of their music straightaway. 

Monday, January 31, 2022

Song Highlight: Waylon Jennings - Black Rose


Country music is amongst the most maligned of musical genres (perhaps just below Nu-metal). Many of the artists that dominate mainstream country music radio stations play a brand of country music that does not feel sincere. It is as if a record label told them to combine a collection of stereotypes about hard-working Americans and set it to the strumming of an acoustic guitar. It is apparent that they are not singing about lived experiences. They are pandering to a demographic, and hoping that listeners will not think hard enough about it to notice. 

Friday, December 31, 2021

Song Highlight: Cloud District - 2sad2swim

Spotify informed me that the genre that I listened to most over 2021 was Midwestern Emo. You might remember me talking about the genre in my post about The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. It is a branch of emo music that is usually characterized by unconventional vocals (sometimes whiny with moments of abrasiveness) and glimmering guitar lines, making it more approachable than some of the more hardcore-influenced emo bands. A friend of mine recently turned me on to the New York-based emo band Cloud District, and they fit in neatly with the whiney, introspective emo music that I have really come to enjoy. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Song Highlight: Bongripper - Satan

In the realm of popular music, most songs are fairly short and feature relatively standard song structures. These simple structures, combined with an infectious riff or a catchy vocal line are used to get stuck in your head. As you can imagine, not every musical act is aiming for such accessibility. Chicago, Illinois’ doom metal band Bongripper is a prime example of this, eschewing vocals entirely and plumbing the depths of a riff for upwards to 30 minutes in a single song. Despite this, their songs are surprisingly compelling, slowly evolving over their lengthy run times, layering new elements at a glacial pace. The band is a four piece, consisting of Ronald Petzke on Bass, Daniel O'Connor on Drums, and Nick Dellacroce and Dennis Pleckham on guitar. Their ridiculous band name came out of a joke about Sleep’s Dopesmoker neglecting to use all of the space on a compact disc (Dopesmoker is a single, 63 minute song about the Weedians traveling to Jerusalem with bongs strapped to their backs). They set out to write a song that used all 80 minutes of a compact disc’s run time, and recorded their first release, The Great Barrier Reefer in 2006.