Power On

 I’d like to take a minute to talk about a genre of music that gets little coverage. A genre who’s composers and writers work tirelessly to produce some of the most beautiful and exciting compositions of our generation. I’m talking about Video Game Soundtracks.

 Video Games, much like the computers and cell phones we use on the daily, have improved so drastically since I was a kid that it’s truly an amazing achievement. Now, some would still argue that video games are pointless and are a waste of time, but that’s a debate best left for a designated blog about the subject, wouldn’t you say? But, if I may interject, the thing that always gets my attention is the music in the game I’m playing.

 Now, I’m not just talking about a game’s soundtrack that’s a compilation of band’s songs. Albeit games like Borderlands, the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series, and even Jack Black’s metal video game cult classic Brutal Legend boast impressive tracks. But what about the games whose soundtracks are completely original? Compositions created solely for the title? There in lies true works of modern musical art.

 I’ve been more moved by some game soundtracks than their cinematic counterparts. Not to discredit composers like Zimmer, Badelt, or the master composer John Williams (of which he & I share the same birthday, no big deal). I’ve felt that the video game soundtrack lends itself more atmosphere and intensifies your gaming experience, especially considering how immersed you already are while playing.

 Some notable pieces like “Icarus” from the game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, have really stuck with me. Games like Fallout 3 and the Bioshock series have captured the innocent 40’s and 50’s era sound and successfully integrated them into dystopian settings.

 Of course, the composers that come up with these pieces don’t go completely unnoticed. They always have their categories at Video Game Award ceremonies, but I wish they could get more recognition beyond that.  Anyways, that’s my two cents on the subject.

 What are some of your favorite video game soundtracks? Let me know in the comments below!

**UPDATE**

 Hello everyone! I’m excited to report that the plans for the website are coming along perfectly! I’ve already had talks with a few backers, and may even have a record label involved soon! Stay tuned for more news to come.

 – Nick

Back When I Was Your Age…

 It seems like no matter what group of people you’re with, at some point you hear some variation of this phrase mentioned: “All modern music sucks, the old stuff is way better.”

 Before expanding my musical horizons to what it is now, I would’ve agreed with that statement. In fact, I still partially agree with it in terms of the generic miasma seeping out of the radio stations these days. “DJ Generic coming’ at ya on KGGQ spinnin’ the same five songs for ya every single day!” I feel the nostalgia wash over me whenever  solid 90’s hits like “Black Hole Sun” , “What’s Goin’ On?” , “Rebirth of Slick” , or even “Barley Breathing” come on my shuffled iTunes playlist.
 I do not, however, agree that ALL modern music is bad. I mean, look at all the fantastic bands that have surfaced over the last 15 years! Four Year Strong, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs,  The Color Morale, Circa Survive, and so many others have proven that modern music isn’t dead, it’s just not found on mainstream radio.

 Saying that there’s no good music anymore is just an insult to the music world, and the brilliant artists who are really putting the time and effort into putting out solid, non generic music out there for us to enjoy. It is my hope that mainstream music will soon end this seemingly endless spew of auto-tuned junk and bring in these true artists so that we can listen to good music on the radio again. Without having to turn to the “Classics” station.

 It may seem like I’m just ranting, and perhaps I am a bit, but I feel like you would agree with me if you turn off KIIS FM and searched the Indie and Underground scenes. Just give it a shot, forget about drops or “Can you dance to it?” for once, and actually take the time to enjoy the true art for that is MUSIC.

 Okay, okay, rant finished, as you were.

 What are some of your favorite bands? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. Some exciting news! I will soon be launching the THAT MUSIC JUNKIE blog as a full-blown website! Thank you so much to all of you who have read my posts throughout the last few years, I can not wait to take the next step and seeing you all on my new site soon! –Nick

 

A Look Back, and a Glimpse Forward

 Well, the first week of 2015 is at an end, and so far so good. No complaints on my end really. I have been spared the “New Year, New Me” posts, as well as the mind-numbing drone of resolutions that we all know last a month tops. So yeah, not bad.

 I wanted to write a post about the best albums of 2014, but then I realized a LOT of bloggers, columnists, and pre-teen girls do that. So, I thought I’d take a different approach. Instead of the usual Top 40 miasma that spews out of the radio, or bombardment of bands you’ve never heard of just for the sake of “Hipster Cred,” I have decided to post my personal favorite albums of last year, in no particular order. I’d also like to point out some upcoming releases that I’m personally looking forward to.

 Everyone has their own opinion and tastes, which makes music so wonderful. That’s why it wouldn’t be plausible for me to say “THESE ARE THE ABSOLUTE BEST ALBUMS OF 2014 NO ARGUMENT.” So, without further adieu, my personal favorite albums of the year 2014:

 First up is “Hold on, Pain Ends” by The Color Morale. This is a band that I absolutely fell in love with at Warped Tour. I immediately got a hold of their entire discography and have obsessed ever since. “Hold On, Pain Ends” is a wonderful album, promoting more positive messages rather than the usual pain and sadness that overtones most other bands in their genre. They were joined by Craig Owens (of Chiodos) for the song “Developing Negative” which is one of my favorites.

 Next, “From Parts Unknown” by Everytime I Die. This is a band that never fails to deliver. The follow-up to 2012’s “Ex Lives” packs a powerful punch with tracks like “Exometrium” and my personal favorite: “Thirst.” A.J. Buckley and the boys of E.I.D. prove time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with. (Bit of an overstatement, maybe. But my point is BUY THIS ALBUM).

Coming out a few days after my birthday back in February *wink* was Chino Moreno’s (Deftones) side project with Chuck Doom and Far guitarist Shaun Lopez †††  (Crosses).  This self-titled album is a lovely mix of Moreno’s singing voice over modern, dark-wave tunes. I first came across this band on the BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY soundtrack with their song “The Years,” which subsequently became one of my favorites. I feel like this band would be a modern-day love child of Depeche Mode and Bauhaus, in the good way of course. They are a farcry from the token Deftones sound, so don’t go in expecting something like “Around the Fur.” I highly recommend checking this one out…if you haven’t already. 

 Lastly, I’d say one of THE  best albums to come out in the year 2014 was non other than “Mandatory Fun”  by the vastly talented “Weird” Al Yankovich. Now, hear me out on this one. “Weird” Al pulled off something with “Mandatory Fun” that has NEVER been done before: he released a comedy album that topped the Billboard charts. Not only that, but the coinciding music videos were fantastic for each single.  The Master of  Parody really proved his talent and relevance with this album, not to mention proving what sets him apart from other parody acts like Cletus T. Judd *shudder*.

 Now, onto 2015 with some upcoming releases that I’m super excited for!

 Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler will be releasing his first album with side project Big Noble. Not too much has been released about this as of yet, other than Kessler partnering with sound engineer Joseph Fraioli for the project. Although designer label Rag & Bone DID use their first single “Ocean Picture” in a recent ad. The album is set to release early 2015.

 Fellow Indy kids and Hipsters take heart, we have confirmation of upcoming albums slated for this year from Belle & Sebastion, School of Seven Bells, and even Wrens! As my friends know, I’ma HUGE fan of Wrens, and I was incredibly excited to hear that they’ll finally be releasing new music this year. If you’re unfamiliar with their work, do yourself a favor and check out the album “The Meadowlands,” you’ll thank me later. Belle & Sebastion are well established in the music community with fantastic EP’s like “I’m a Cuckoo” and “Lazy Line Painter Jane.”

 Finally, we have confirmation of albums for two heavy hitters this year. First up is Garbage. Much like every other 90’s kid, I have much love for Shirley Manson and the boys, and their 2012 release “Not Your Kind of People” proves that they can go seven years and still put out an amazing record. I’m thoroughly looking forward to see what they’ve cooked up for us.

 Second, and this is the big one, after eight long years since their last album release, TOOL has confirmed a new album! 2006’s “10,000 Days”  kicked us all in the jewels with tracks like “Vicarious” and “The Pot,” which left fans in a daze and yearning for more. Front man Maynard James Keenan, also of A Perfect Circle, released TWO albums for his side project Pussifer since. Now, TOOL HAS done performances in recent years, sometimes with tickets starting at $70 a pop, but this is the first time they’ve confirmed new music.

 Well, there you have it. Relatively short, sweet, and to the point I’d say, but I hope I’ve piqued your interest. What were some of your favorites of the last year? What are you looking forward to in 2015? Let me know in the comments below! – Nick

**P.S.**
 I’m in the works for launching this blog on my very own website this year! Thank you all so much  for reading what I’ve posted, and I can’t wait to see you on my new site soon! Details soon to follow.