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.

First Quarter Review

Well now, there have been a lot of albums released during the first three months of 2017. I mean a LOT.  We’re talking over 350 albums released!

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I’ve compiled a list of my top 25 albums released during the first quarter of 2017, although I do encourage you to do some research yourself and see which ones really stand out to you.

So, here we go!

  1. David Bowie – “No Plan”
  2. Brian Eno – “Reflection”
  3. Dropkick Murpheys – “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”
  4. AFI – “AFI (The Blood Album)”
  5. The Flaming Lips – “Oczy Mlody”
  6. Hurray for the Riff Raff – “The Navigator”
  7. Murs – “”Captain California”
  8. Depeche Mode – “Spirit”
  9. Spoon – “Hot thoughts”
  10. Bob Dylan – “Triplicate”
  11. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Damage and Joy”
  12.  Bush – “Black and White Rainbows”
  13. The XX – “I See You”
  14. John 5 & The Creatures – “Season of the Witch”
  15. Mastodon – “Emperor of Sand”
  16. Passion Pit – “Tremendous Sea of Love”
  17. Overkill – The Grinding Wheel”
  18. Save Ferris – “Checkered Past”
  19. Halestorm – “Reanimate 3.0: The Covers EP”
  20. Animal Collective – “The Painters”
  21. Born of Osiris – “The Eternal Reign”
  22. Black Star Riders – “Heavy Fire”
  23. deadmau5 – “Stuff I Used to Do”
  24. Dashboard Confessional – “Covered and Taped”
  25. Minus the Bear – “VOIDS”

Whew! So now you’ve got your homework. Check out these albums, and skim through the other Albums Released in 2017 to find your favorites. Be share to comment your favorites below!

International Women’s Day

As many of my long-time readers know, I adamantly support and try to promote the amazing women in the music industry. In fact, I’ve even written articles talking about some of the very talented women rocking the music world as we speak. You can read those articles Here and Also Here.

Today is International Women’s Day, and instead of sounding like a broken record and just talking about the same thing in the aforementioned articles, I wanted to take a moment to remember some of the women who really paved the way for modern day female musicians, as well as inspired artists throughout the years.

From stereotype shattering performers like Sister Rosetta Tharpe to punk icons like Poly Styrene(of whom I talked about in my most recent post) and Debbie Harry, to pop icons like Selena, women have been rocking our faces off from day one.

Because of their amazing perseverance and refusal to just sit idly by, we got acts like The Runaways who changed the way women were perceived in the industry, and inspired generations to follow.

So I just want to encourage my readers to take a moment and really reflect on the work of these amazing women, and hopefully inspire a new sense of appreciation for their efforts. Open up your preferred music streaming app and listen to some Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Siousxie & The Banshee, The Pretenders, The Carpenters, The Breeders, The Selecter, Lorde, St. Vincent, and so many other fantastic women in music.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Black History Month: Honoring Black Musicians Throughout History

Anyone remotely familiar with modern music history knows that we wouldn’t have music as it is now without the innovations and contributions from African American musicians. In fact, genres like Rock wouldn’t even exist without their efforts. All of the classic rock bands like The Rolling Stones and The Who claim influence from African American Blues singers like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and John Lee Hooker.

While their efforts were eclipsed by their Caucasian counterparts like Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis, those acts wouldn’t have gotten where they were without musicians like Ray Charles and Little Richard paving the way.

Easily the most famous Black musician has got to be Jimi Hendrix, who is often revered as the greatest guitar player of all time. Hendrix was an amazing guitar player, whose talents were unrivaled. His band The Jimi Hendrix Experience became one of the most influential bands in the late 60’s and into the 70’s, with many modern day guitarists claiming inspiration from Hendrix to this day.

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Poly Styrene and her band X-Ray Spex

Even the Punk genre came into existence out of African American influence. One of the most favored punk bands of all time is Bad Brains, which consisted solely of African American members. Not to mention X-Ray Spex front woman Poly Styrene kickin’ everyone’s ass with her energetic stage presence.

And what of modern day musicians? They’re not all Rappers and Hip-Hop artists you know. From the esteemed Bassist Victor Wooten, the face-melting guitar talents of Tosin Abasi, and double-threat of pianist and vocalist Alicia Keys, Black musicians continue to play a very influential role in the music world.

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So in remembering the amazing Black historical figures like Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman,  Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, and countless others, be sure to take a moment to reflect on the myriad of  wonderful contributions that the African American community have made to the music world. Really take the time to appreciate the fact that your favorite band most likely wouldn’t be where they are without them.

More Heady Nuggs

My favorite all-time odd band is back. The Flaming Lips help us kick off 2017 with their latest album “Oczy Mlody” (no, I’m not sure how to pronounce that either).

The Flaming Lips have entered their third stage as band in the last few years. Their previous full length release “The Terror” saw a departure from the usual positive and optimistic themes in favor of a never before explored emotion from the band: negativity and realism.

“The Terror” also kicked off what I referred to as the third stage as it showed an evolution of the band’s sound. While previous releases like 2009’s “Embryonic” and their fantastic 2006 release “At War With the Mystics” were layered with heavy distortion and white noise, “Oczy Mlody” is more atmospheric and broad with it’s sounds and electronics. Lead singer Wayne Coyne’s vocals, as unique as always, remains calm and subdued like in previous releases, however the accompanying music actually matches the calmness throughout most of the album. Something that long-time Lips fans haven’t seen since the 1990’s.

“Oczy Mlody” is the first Flaming Lips album in a very long time that you can just sit back and relax to or enjoy on an early morning drive without wanting to get too hyped up. Often times throughout the album it feels like they took influence from Tycho and even Daft Punk’s “Tron” soundtrack, and mixed in their own unique blend of oddball characteristics. The whole album actually feels like a nod to the psychedelic movement of music in the 1960’s with a modern day electronic twist. It’s pretty rad if you ask me.

I honestly feel like this is an album that virtually everyone can enjoy. Be you a long-time fan of the band or new to their music, I believe “Oczy Mlody” is a fantastic introductory album to the Flaming Lips that will inspire newcomers and critics alike to consider visiting the band’s previous works.

“Oczy Mlody” is available digitally and in stores now, so do yourself a favor and check out the first major release of 2017.

2016: A Year in Review

 Well, we’ve survived the first week of 2017. As mentioned in my previous post, I’ll be maintaining an optimistic outlook for this year. 

 Besides we do have a lot to look forward to, like new music from AFI, The Flaming Lips, The Wrens, and more.

 Before that happens, however, I’d like to share my favorite albums that were released in during the train wreck that was 2016.

Tiger Army “V”


 Let me start off by saying that I love Tiger Army. I actually got to see them for my birthday last year prior to this album being released, and I’ll be seeing them again in a few months at the same venue. I enjoyed this album from start to finish, and it fit perfectly in line with Tiger Army’s previous releases without sounding like the same thing over and over. 

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down “A Man Alive”


 This album was, without question, my absolute favorite Indie release last year. The music was a wonderful and ecclectic bend of indie rock, hip-hop, and alternative. This coupled well with Thao Ngyuen’s vocal styling, and made for a really solid album.

Iggy Pop with Josh Homme “Post-Pop Depression”


 As my readers my recall, I raved about this album in my review. I thought it was excellent. It’s a wonderful follow-up to Pop’s “The Idiot” with perfect influence from Josh Homme. I still have this album in regular rotation, and I play my vinyl copy (hipster chic, I know) for my friends. 

A Tribe Called Quest “We Got it From Here…Thank You for Your Service”


 Eighteen years after their last album release, and A Tribe Called Quest prove that they’re still very much a force to be reckoned with in the Hip-Hop/Rap community. The album touches on current social events, and pays tribute to the late Phife Dawg. Featuring guest appearances from Busta Rhymes and even Elton John, “We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” is rapidly becoming one of my all-time favorite albums of its genre. 

 Blink 182 “California”


 The first Blink 182 album without Tom DeLonge, and it’s far superior to the previous release “Neighborhoods” in almost every way. Mark Hoppis and Travis Barker recruited Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba to fill in for DeLonge on guitar and vocals, and it worked wonderfully. While the album did touch on serious subjects, it kept a sense of lightheartedness we use to see in earlier Blink releases. There is even a brief joke track called “Built This Pool,” whose lyrics I won’t post in an attempt to keep this post family friendly. 

Descendant “Hypercaffium Spazzinate”


 Milo Aukerman and crew touch on how getting older sucks and lay on the classic self-depreciation on their return to Epitaph Records album release. “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” (which is far easier to write than say) maintains the classic Deacendants sound and sense of humor while reminding us that they are very much a classic punk band. 

David Bowie “Blackstar”


 By now, my readers are probably getting real sick and tired of my constant rants about how awesome Bowie was. I don’t apologize for that. The man was a legend, and his music was very influential in my life. He left this earth with one final masterpiece, “Blackstar,” and it was a wonderful, insightful, and imaginiatve work of art. The imagery that coincided in the music videos like “Lazerus” were surreal and chilling, and just goes to show how insanely gifted and talented he was. 

 Well, there you have it. My personal favorite album releases of 2016. I’d love to hear what yours were! Comment your favorites below, and be sure to follow @TheMusicJunkie8 on Twitter

Dazed, and Confused

I feel like 2016 has been one of the most roller coaster years in recent history. We had an almost sitcom-like election, beloved actors and actresses were taken from us so expectantly, and  geopolitical tensions are at a high.

No category has experienced ups & downs more than the world of music, however. We lost ICONS this last year, and the majority of them were unexpected. David Bowie, Prince, Merle Haggard, Greg Lake, Alphonse Mouzon, Maurice White, Leonard Coen, and George Michael all left us this year, and that’s not even half!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we saw reunion performances from the original Misfits, A Tribe Called Quest released their first album in EIGHTEEN YEARS, and out of nowhere The freakin’ SMITHS announced that they’ll be releasing a new LP that features previously unreleased tracks!

I don’t even understand what’s going on anymore, and I’ve stopped trying. This last year has tumultuous and confusing at every turn, and just when we think things are calming down it throws us another curveball.

Like the sudden loss of Carrie Fisher. I know that’s not music related, but I am a lifelong Star Wars fan, and I was just as upset over losing Princess Leia/General Leia Organa as I was over Bowie. And then, the very next day, her mother Debbie Reynolds passed away! (That rhyme was unintentional, but I’m leaving it in.) Reynolds was well known throughout the Musical community for her work on stage and in the classic “Singing in the Rain.”

As this last week of this insane year draws to a close, I want to encourage my readers to keep an optimistic outlook on the coming year. Who knows, 2017 may  just be the most exciting and impactful year in music we’ve seen in a long time! I mean, The Flaming Lips are starting us off with a new album next month, and I am definitely excited about that!

Can I Kick It?

After eighteen years, A Tribe Called Quest set aside their differences and presented us with their sixth studio album. “We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” comes out swinging with the social commentary of the modern day while maintaining the feel of 90’s hip-hop of the group’s hay day.

Aside from frequent contributors like Busta Rhymes and Consequence, this latest albums features Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, Jack White, Anderson Paak, and even Elton John! This album came as a bit of a surprise since the group long said that 1998’s “The Love Movement” was their final album. However, after all that’s been going on in the world, the group felt collective change.

The title “We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” was chosen by the group’s late member Phife Dawg, and even though the other members aren’t clear on it’s meaning, they decided to keep it in his honor. They even honored him during their Saturday Night Live performance with a drop-down poster featuring his face.

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A Tribe Called Quest performing “We The People” on Saturday Night Live

Every track on this two part album is fantastic. No, really, it is! From the lyrics calling for an end to hate and encouraging coming together, to the cool and smooth beats throughout, this album is easily one of the best of the year.

I’ve pretty much had it on regular rotation since it came out on the eleventh of this month. I’ll even go as far as to say it’s my favorite hip-hop album of the year. It’s that good. Whether or not this turns out to be their actual final album remains to be seen, but it’s a great one for sure.

“We’ve Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” is available to stream on Apple Music and Spotify, but I would definitely encourage you to support the group by purchasing it as well.

Righteous Political Outrage?

Well, we certainly have a lot of…interesting discussions going on here in the US don’t we? The recent Presidential Election has lead to many heated debates, from both sides, as well as nation-wide protests.

While I have my own strong political opinions (as my family and friends have come to learn!) this is NOT a political blog. This is a music site, and as such I will do my due diligence to refrain from expressing any of my own political views on here.

There are, however, a wide variety of very political driven bands and performers out there. They’ve been around for decades and until the farfetched idea of world peace is achieved, they will remain and continue to voice their beliefs and concerns.

Because of everything that’s been going on in my country over the last two years, and especially these last few weeks, I have been listening to a lot of these bands on a more frequent basis. I mean, I’ve always loved Punk music, but now I have a better understanding of it. These bands, however, are not strictly punk bands.

As a matter of fact, protest songs and bands that write songs about politics stretches across nearly every genre of music! Well, aside from EDM, Dubstep, House, Dance, etc. Genres like Punk, Folk, Rock, and Rap have been at the forefront of this subject for decades.

Take Rage Against the Machine for instance. They released a song called “Testify” (which happens to be one of my favorite RATM tunes) on their album “The Battle of Los Angeles” back in 1999. Nearly twenty years ago, and it’s topic of corrupt politicians is applicable to this day.

Or how about the rapper Murs? Not only is he Guinness World Record holder for rapping for twenty four hours straight, but his 2008 album “Murs For President” touches on many social and political issues afflicting the African American population in this country. Prime example: his track “The Science” not only breaks down the history of oppression, but it also encourages education on American history and how to fight back (in a non-violent way, of course).

These are all recent examples, but it goes farther back. Almost fifty years ago, a little thing called Woodstock took place. Images of hippie burnouts aside, the central theme of the event was political cause. Think about it! What was one of the most iconic moments of the event? Jimi Hendrix playing the National Anthem on his guitar.

Why is that so iconic? We have the greatest guitar player of all time, who happens to be a Black man, performing an amazing rendition of this country’s anthem in a wordless manner. An anthem that was written when Black people were still slaves. The way he played it, the effects he used, brought to mind images of the Vietnam War that was going on, as well as the social injustices that were (and still are) plaguing this country.

Now, there are a variety of songs that reflect the other perspective as well. Political music isn’t all liberal, there’s plenty of conservative music out there as well. As it happens, it’s mostly from the Country music genre.

Common is the theme of National Pride and “America is the greatest damn Country” throughout the entire genre. Literally every Country music performer has a least one song with this theme. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing! Toby Keith made his career off of it.

Be that as it may, this subject is usually found in Country music only. Perhaps in Christian/Religious music too, but I am not getting into that subject right now. That’s a post for anther time.

Whatever your political and social views may be, there is a song and a band/artist for you. Whichever side of the issues you’re on, I do want to encourage you, my readers, to please listen and learn to work together. This country’s motto is “United We Stand” and really we’ve kind of lost track of that. There are a lot of problems going on, and only together can we work to fix it.