Why I Hate Pop Music

My readers often ask me why I avoid talking about Pop music, and why I never discuss Top 40 or who is on the cover of Rolling stone this month. So I think it’s time I finally address this subject.

Pop music has been around since the first bands and singers took to stage. It’s one of the oldest genre stylings beyond classical. It has endured decades, and it dominates the airwaves to this very day.

And why not, right? I mean, Pop is usually fun and you can dance to it.

But I hate it. That is, I hate the modern day version of Pop music.

I blame the Boy Band movement of the late 90’s/Early 00’s. The choreographed, overly hair gelled groups haphazardly thrown together by record companies trying to capitalize on the smiley, bleach-haired teen heartthrobs ripping off real R&B artists in an effort to make more of that almighty dollar.

In doing so, they flooded the market with cookie-cutter groups that became increasingly difficult to differentiate as they all ended up sounding the same, and thus the death of quality Pop music was set in motion.

Gone are the days when a Pop star can write a meaningful song and it get airplay. Nope, instead we get stuck with factory made “music” that’s meaningless and devoid of any substance.

Seriously! Look at most of the Pop songs being shoved into our ears today. What are they all about? Partying. Butts. Advocation of infidelity. Greed. Butts.

It’s just all so shallow and meaningless.

That’s not to say Pop music of the past has been so altruistic, but artists like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, and so many others wrote songs that you could dance to while simultaneously having actual meaning behind them.

Despite all this, Pop thrives and dominates. But for what purpose? So the next pretty blonde white guy or girl can have a big hit, and then quickly get shoved aside for the next one? That’s what I’m saying, it’s devoid of substance.

It’s not just the bubblegum dance side of Pop either. Every sub-genre of Pop is just as bad. Pop Rock? A joke that no real rock fan takes seriously. Mainstream Rap/Hip-Hop? That’s been reduced to repetitive Trap beats and whatever the hell Mumble Rap is. Don’t even get me started on Pop Country. That genre is the most trite and morally questionable of them all.

Now, I listen to pretty much everything. That’s why I chose the name The Music Junkie. So I do, in fact, listen to Pop must, just not modern stuff. Basically anything 90’s (which was a golden era across the board if you ask me) and older. I realize this post may come across pretentious, but for the sake of journalistic integrity I decided to not sugar coat things and answer truthfully.

The Evil Has Landed

Last month acid rock pioneers Queens of the Stone Age released their seventh studio album entitled “Villains.”

Being a huge fan of the band, I had pre-ordered the vinyl release and did my first video of me unboxing my order. (You can see the video Here )

There are few albums that I immediately fall in love with. It usually takes me a solid three or four listen through to really evaluate it and gauge how much I like it. This was not the case with “Villains.”

I had so much hype and anticipation built up for this album upon receiving two of the songs to listen to early. The first single off the album “The Way You Use To Do” as well as “The Evil Has Landed.” Man oh man, was I not disappointed.

I immediately loved both songs, and upon receiving the album I knew it was going to be added to the favorite list. From the the opening track “Feet Don’t Fail Me” with its Led Zeppelin-esque sounding guitars and bass work, to the punctuated “Domesticated Animals” all the way to the ending track “Villains of Circumstances,” this album is probably one of the most solid and well-produced ones to be released this year.

QotSA is one of those few bands that changes up their sound enough to where no two albums really sound the same, and yet they maintain that signature Queens of the Stone Age feel. I attribute this to the constant lineup change. The band is always changing up members, but this is due to a revolving door policy and not drama. Each member brings in a new flair, and it only enhances the band’s legacy.

I feel like that really shines through on “Villains.” The co-operative guitar energy between frontman Josh Homme and QotSA veteran member Troy van Leeuwen is so solid and on point, that the addition of guitarist Dean Fertita enriches the overall sound in a way that feels completely natural.

Overall, “Villains” marks a fantastic addition to the band’s already impressive discography, and I would highly recommend to veteran fans and newcomers alike.

Check out “Villains” available now in store and online.

The Master of Shock Rock is Back

1969.

LOT happened in that year.

Man landed on the moon, The Beatles released “Abbey Road,” as well as gave their final live performance atop Apple Records, and let’s not forget Woodstock.

Something else happened of major significance in the year 1969, however. Something that would literally cause a major change in music History.

The album “Pretties for You” was released.

It was the Psychedelic debut album from vocalist Vincent Furnier, lead guitarist Glenn Buxton, rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neil Smith.

Or, as they were more known as, Alice Cooper.

2017. A full forty-eight years after “Pretties for You” was released, and Alice Cooper (Furnier’s adopted alias and now solo outfit) has released his 27th studio album entitled “Paranormal.”

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10 brand new songs, 2 new songs with some of the original members, and 6 bonus live versions of Cooper classics 

This album, I’ve got to say, rocks pretty hard. The album has a harder feel to it, yet still rings true to the classic Cooper sound.

What impresses me the most about Alice Cooper is that very fact, actually. A lot of these guys that have been around 30-40+ years have a tendency to sound less creative, they sound generic, and often times downright cheesy. *cough* Aerosmith *cough* Yet Alice Cooper stays true to form while simultaneously adapting to the changing world around him.

Sure, there are a few tracks that feel slightly cheesy, but then again name me an Alice Cooper album that doesn’t have at least one track like that. Come on now, it’s Alice Cooper. The Godfather of Shock Rock. The Villain of Rock ‘n Roll. I think we can make an exception here.

Let’s not forget that he still puts on amazing and theatric stage shows, while his younger counterparts have grown lazy and scaled theirs back. *cough* Marilyn Manson *cough*

Will “Paranormal” stand the test of time and go down as one of Cooper’s masterpieces? Most likely not. Is it still worth listening to, adding to your collection, and a legitimate addition to Alice Cooper’s 40 year legacy? Absolutely.

It Really Isn’t Dead

This last weekend I had the privilege of attending It’s Not Dead Fest 2 in San Bernadino, California, and I gotta say it was an amazing experience.

I feel like those who say “Punk’s dead!” have clearly never been to a punk show before. It was quite the site to see punks of all ages gathered in the Glenn Helen Amphitheater and forming large circle pits while acts like Reagan Youth, Guttermouth, and the legendary GBH played their sets hard and fast.

I’ve written in previous posts that it’s a special feeling when you get to see one of your favorite bands play live, and it was that same feeling I relished when OFF! took the stage. Seeing Keith Morris up there yelling out his lyrics while the band tore it up was easily the highlight of the day for me.

What was really great was seeing newer acts like The Interrupters playing alongside  punk and ska veterans like The Selecter, The Adicts, Buzzcocks, and Rancid. It was truly a unique experience. I’ve been to other music festivals before, like Warped Tour for example, where the bands were so diverse fans butted heads or even avoided each other altogether.

This was not the case with It’s Not Dead.

Whether you were their to see Dropkick Murpheys, Mad Caddies, or even Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, everyone got a long and had a good time. It was a weird sort of Punk paradise where everyone got along to express their love of the genre as well as their disdain for the current administration. This is not a political blog, however, so I will not be diving into that territory!

All in all I can say, with confidence, that punk most certainly is not dead, you just gotta know where to look for it.

In fact, there are two big events coming up in October where you can see for yourself. Ye Scallywag! on October 21st will feature such acts like Pennywise (who are fantastic live, by the way), The Vandals, and The Adolescents, and I, personally, am looking forward to attending Fat Mike’s Punk ‘n Brew Fest on October 28th in Huntington Beach. NOFX, Bad Religion, Goldfinger and more will be rockin’ the stage while attendees get to enjoy various craft beers.

Sounds like a damn good time to me!

So ignore what the radio and MTV ( whatever that even is anymore) tells you. Punk, and honestly Rock in general, is not dead. It’s alive and well, and still going strong after 30+ years.

 

For Info on Ye Scallywag! check out the website Here

For info on Punk ‘n Brew, click Here

Help-core?

We’ve seen vast changes in the music world over the last few decades. With every new genre that was created, a seemingly endless amount of sub-genres would appear. The Rock genre has more offspring than Zeus, and with every new generation of college student, more appear.

Even Rock’s sub-genres have sub-genres!

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In my never ending quest to listen to all the music, however, I’ve made an interesting observation. I’ve talked about how music can help attribute to certain moods or feelings in a Previous Post, and this observation coincides with my writings in an interesting way.

When asked, most people would probably name a religious or new age band/singer for  positive and encouraging music. What if I told you that I’ve found more encouragement and inspiration to better aspects of my life in a highly unlikely place: Metal.

Specifically, the sub-genre Metalcore.

What exactly IS Metalcore? So glad you asked! According to the Wikipedia page on the subject, Metalcore is: “…a broad fusion genre of extreme metal and hardcore punk. The word is a blend of the names of the two genres. Among other genres blending metal and hardcore, such as crust punk and grindcore, metalcore is noted for its use of breakdowns, which are slow, intense passages that are conducive to moshing.[1] Pioneering metalcore bands—such as Integrity,[2] Earth Crisis and Converge,[3][4] all of which had formed by 1990—are described as leaning more toward hardcore, with their style sometimes being called metallic hardcore, whereas later bands—such as Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, Bullet for My Valentine, and Parkway Drive —are described as leaning more towards metal.”

“But Music Junkie,” you ask while scratching your head in confusion, “HOW can you feel encouraged and inspired by such an aggressive sounding genre?”

That’s an excellent question pretend reader that I made up for this article, and I’ll explain. You see, this genre IS indeed quite aggressive. I’ve been in mosh and circle pits for bands like Parkway Drive where physical injury was a very real factor.

Upon further exploration of this genre, however, I’ve discovered bands that I truly love and have had the aforementioned positive impact on my life.

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Senses Fail. Note: Currently lead singer “Buddy” Nielson is sporting a beard that puts even mine to shame

Take Senses Fail for example. When they debuted, they were dark and pretty damn Emo. This was attributed to the personal problems lead singer James “Buddy” Nielson was going through. However, Nielson made some major changes in his life, which ultimately led to a change in the band’s sound, and with that we see their journey into the world of metalcore with their fantastic album “Pull the Thorns From Your Heart.” Nielson addressed all his personal struggles that he was going through, and encourages the listener to not fall victim to depression and dark paths, but instead to believe in yourself and work towards fixing things.

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Another reason I love The Ghost Inside so much? They’re from L.A. and are HUGE Kings fans like myself. #GoKingsGo !

On that same note, one of my absolute favorite bands happens to be a metalcore group called The Ghost Inside, and their music got me through rough patches in my life better than any religious experience I had ever had. There are few things in life more encouraging to me then driving in my car after having a rough day and The Ghost Inside comes on with their song “Mercy” off of the “Dear Youth” album, and yelling at the top of my lungs along with lead singer Jonathan Vigil LIFE’S SWINGING HARD, BUT I’M SWINGING HARDER!”

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Now here’s a group of good looking fellas. And you can’t tell me that guitarist Devin King isn’t Beard Goals

Then there’s bands like The Color Morale whose every album addresses the serious persona; struggles that we all face, and encourage you to reach out knowing you’re not alone and that there are those who want to help. I saw The Color Morale at Warped Tour back in 2014, and after their set lead singer Garrett Rapp addressed the crowd stating that they’ll be at their merch stand and would love to talk to each and every one of us if we needed it. Now that is true fan devotion and appreciation!

Perhaps this may have been a bit long-winded way of saying this, but I would encourage my readers to check out some of these bands. Not only for their music talent, but maybe you’ll find the same encouragement from them that I did. In fact, here’s a short list of albums I would recommend checking out:

  • Killswitch Engage – “The End of Heartache”
  • The Ghost Inside – “Dear Youth”
  • Senses Fail – “Pull the Thorns From Your Heart
  • The Color Morale – “Hold On, Pain Ends”
  • The Word Alive – “Real.”

 

Kill for Candy – Dreamcar Debut

 The self titled debut album for Dreamcar is finally here, and its better than expected. The super group that’s essentially No Doubt but with Dave Havok of AFI instead of Gwen Stefani on vocals brings a retro twist on a modern vibe. Channeling the pop and new wave sounds of the 80’s, Dreamcar brings a refreshingly unique sound to the table. It seriously sounds like something Richard Blade would’ve played on KROQ.

 While the decade of decadence often brings images of over teased hair and and grown men in leopard spandex, Dreamcar expertly channels the sound and feel of the era without seeming cheesy or gimmicky. 
 Which isn’t really that surprising considering the band’s line up. All the members are veteran performers that have been going strong since the 90’s, and while Dreamcar is composed of primarily No Doubt Members and Davey, their sound is a pleasant departure from that of their respective band’s. 
 Although let’s be honest, AFI has changed their sound enough times that we pretty much have to generically label them as just rock at this point. 


 Speaking of AFI, I was actually rather surprised that Dreamcar has released their debut album a mere 3 months after AFI released “The Blood Album.” Davey must really be turning into a workaholic! However, it is kinda refreshing to see him in a music project without AFI guitarist Jade Puget. Havok and Puget have collaborated not only on AFI, but electronic outfit Blaqk Audio and hardcore straight edge band XTRMST. 
 It’s also nice to see that Adrian Young and the boys of No Doubt haven’t gone Gwen’s route of pop/faux hip-hop that her solo work is known for. 
 Overall, Dreamcar delivers an enjoyable listening experience through and through that really Gen X-ers would enjoy this album just as much as their Millennial counterparts. My mom & dad are really into their 80’s music, but I feel like Dreamcar is an album they can enjoy just as much.