In Memory

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of 90’s pop star Selena, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on not only her tragic death, but the other great musicians we’ve lost.

Now, obviously I can’t take all day to mention ALL of them, that would be both time-consuming and depressing. I just want to point out a few, and have us remember them for the impact that they left on the music industry.

First, The King. Elvis Presley. The very definition of a superstar. A man who has a fandom so devout, it borders on ¬†cult status. All across the United States, you can easily find all sorts of Elvis memorabilia, from lunch boxes to t-shirts, wallets to socks, it’s everywhere. There is even a mention of his mega stardom in the video game “Fallout: New Vegas.” ¬†Whether you’re a fan of “The King of Rock & Roll” or not, there is no denying the impact he had on not only the music world, but our society as a whole.

Next I want to talk about a death that still bums me out to this day: Jeff Buckley. He died back in ’97 before he even hit the age of thirty, but his music inspired so many, that to this day he is revered for his contributions. Buckley impacted so many lives, from Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell to Alternative artist Joan as Policewoman (Joan Wasser), that it’s difficult to believe he’s gone. But, then again, people who die never really leave us. They live on in our hearts and minds. I only wish I had had the opportunity to see him live in concert, but I was only eight years old when he passed. R.I.P Jeff Buckley. Dream Brother. Mystery White Boy.

I think the musician death that really took everyone by surprise was that of Queen front man Freddie Mercury. Literally after the day he finally came out of the closet publicly, Mercury died of AIDS. This caught everyone off guard, and saddened the whole industry. I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t like Queen. Even an aspiring rapper I’ve talked to said that “We Will Rock You” is his jam. Watching any footage of Freddie live just proves what an amazing performer he really was, and we remember him as the eccentric, yet private artist that he was.

The better half of The Beatles left us way too soon. John Lennon’s shocking murder, and George Harrison’s sudden passing left a world-wide wake. Regardless if you’re a fan of the “Fab Four” or not, there’s no denying what John Lennon and George Harrison contributed to making pop & rock music what it is today. One of my favorite sings has always been “Here Comes the Sun,” and Lennon’s solo work has had a profound impact on many artists. While we still have Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr among us, the industry just isn’t the same without Lennon and Harrison with us.

Last, but by no means least, we have Frank Sinatra. “Ol’ Blue Eyes.” “The Chairman of the Board.” Frankie is, has, and always will be, the greatest crooner we’ve ever seen. How many countless “Great American Soundtrack” or “Classic Love Songs” albums are there that feature a plethora of Sinatra’s hits? Too many to count! Frankie will always be remember as one of the greatest American performers of all time. It’s difficult to believe that someone of his caliber had a hard time getting a label to sign him in his later years. But, that’s just the ignorance that record labels and corporate big-wigs for you.

While this post has had a particularly somber tone, I don’t mean to bum out my awesome readers. So, I will leave you with this line written by Wayne Coyne on the Flaming Lips’ uplifting tune “Do You Realize??” : “And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know you realize that life goes fast, it’s hard to make the good things last, you realize the sun doesn’t go down, it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning ’round.”

Strange Indeed

I have always had an…interesting relationship with Modest Mouse’s music. There are some songs that I absolutely love, such as “The Ocean Breathes Salty” and everyone’s favorite “Float On,” and there are some which downright weird me out.

Modest Mouse recently released this album entitled “Strangers to Ourselves” a few weeks ago after a brief hiatus, and after listening through it a few times, I can honestly say that my previous statement remains true. Well, at least to me.

The opening track is a slow one, which is not anything out of the ordinary for the band, and then we get upbeat and awesome with “Lampshades on Fire.” Then things get downright weird (yes, even for Modest Mouse), and kind of creepy with an odd track entitled “S**t in Your Cut.” ** This is the first time a song made me feel uncomfortable since I was in elementary school and heard Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” for the first time.

I am a big fan of their album “Good News for People Who Like Bad News,” but admittedly I’m not a big enough Modest Mouse fan to truly gauge “Strangers to Ourselves” as a True to Form or revolutionary piece for the band. In my honest opinion, I would recommend listening through it at least once to get a feel for it. And hey, please share your thoughts on the album with me! I’d love to hear your opinion on it.

An Unexpected Solo Success

Being a long-time Foo Fighters fan, I was delighted to learn that bassist Nate Mendal would be releasing a solo album. Under the guise Lieutenant, Mendal’s debut solo album “If I Kill This Thing We All Eat For A Week” was released last week, and I was instantly impressed.

If you’re expecting something Foo Fighters-esq, you will be disappointed. Sunny Day Real Estate fan looking for a clone? Sorry. Lieutenant sounds nothing like either bands Mendal is associated with, and I think that’s brilliant. Often times, when an artist goes solo, he/she still sounds like the band he’s with. For example: Serj Tankian. Both solo albums just sound like System of a Down albums. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of System & Tankian alike, I’m just stating their similarities.

Lieutenant sounds like a wonderful cross between Magnetic Morning and Wrens, and I’ve pretty much listened to it non-stop since it came out. From the upbeat opening track “Belle Epoque” to the downtrodden ending tune “Lift the Sheet,” this is honestly one of those albums that I thoroughly enjoyed every single song.

I’m very happy to have “If I Kill This Thing We All Eat For A Week’ as my first album review of 2015, and I can’t recommend it enough. This is an excellent album for any fan of Rock and Indie, for Foo Fighters and Sunny Day Real Estate fans alike, Lieutenant shows that Nate Mendal is more than just a bass player in a popular rock band.

The Anti

Let’s take a moment to step back a review popular trends in Hip-Hop, Pop, R&B, etc. What is the re-occurring theme throughout the majority of the songs we hear from these genres that’s played over the radio? Partying.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with partying. In fact, musician Andrew W.K. is a big believer in positive partying. I’ll defer you to him for further information on that particular subject. What I’m referring to, however, is the party activities that are uplifted. Mostly alcohol and drug abuse.

I’m not here to preach or anything, what I wanted to bring up is the polar opposite of these songs: the Straight Edge movement. It all started several years ago with Ian McKay’s punk band Minor Threat. Straight Edge promotes living a clean lifestyle, and living life to the fullest absent of drugs and alcohol. I think it’s brilliant, personally.

In fact, I went Straight Edge myself back in November of 2014, and I’ve never regretted it. Granted, I was never a drug user, but I loved beer!

Again, I’m not here to preach or push my beliefs, I just wanted to bring attention to this positive genre of music that gets shadowed by today’s chart-topping hits. It’s a genre that has survived the last couple of decades, and goes strong today with bands like Wolfdown and even Davey Havok & Jade Puget’s (of AFI & Blaqk Audio) latest musical venture XTRMST.

If you’re a fan of Punk and Hardcore, I really encourage you to check out some of the Straight Edge bands, as they’re putting out some really good music. If Straight Edge is a subject that piques your interest, check out these links for more info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straight_edge

http://straightedge.com/whatissxe.html

Don’t Forget the “Little Guy”

Modern technology has made the ability to listen to your favorite band/singer’s entire discography as easy as pressing a button. It’s insane! I mean,I’m in my mid-to-late twenties, and this wasn’t possible when I was a kid.

Not only can you listen to your favorite stuff, but with that comes the ability to discover new music. Which is an objective I hope to provide for you with this website. It also makes getting signed to a label slightly easier.

While we do live in this amazing age of having information and media at our fingertips, I want to take a moment to stress the importance of supporting local artists. None of your favorite bands or singers would be where they are today without the support of their fans, and they ALL started as a local artist struggling to be heard.

Sure, I’ve been to my fair share of concerts and festivals, but the ones that I enjoy the most are those that are put on by local musicians. Not only does it give you the opportunity to hear new music, but you can always socialize with the performers before and after. Plus, when you buy their merch, you get this sense of being a part of helping someone achieve their dream. And that’s a really special feeling, let me tell you.

In short, next time someone asks you to check out their SoundCloud or BandCamp, or even come out to see them play, I really encourage you to do so. Who knows? You may stumble across the next big act!

– Nick