Monday, July 7, 2014

My (Old) CDs - Strung Out - Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues

Talk about one of those types of punk rock albums that captures a feeling, an essence of angst masked in wacky tight melodies, breakneck pacing, and straight and true lyrics. This album is full of tracks that really pump you up - the adrenaline levels are a product of literally how quick the band pulls off guitar riff after riff, how each song seems to want to break some sort of speed record. What makes it tick is you can clearly hear how tight the drumming is, every fourth taps and you think, 'this drummer must be on an insane caffeine regimen'.

Strung Out is one of those bands that goes beyond even what you would imagine a fast tempo would be, they sort of blast through your notion of cut-time and fill it with musical vocals and what I can only describe as wacky hooks that always seem to land at the right moment and never go off the rails surprisingly. You should be bouncing around the room with every song on this or any of their albums, some tracks feeling like the equivalent of flailing nonsensically with a giant smile on your face.

I'm not as much of a fan of their metal-tinged leanings but that is just a personal preference - not to say that a track like "Bring Out Your Dead" is not a good song, just not my favorite style from them.

This album has one of my all time songs - "Wrong Side of the Tracks". There's so much I can say - listening to the song now for the first time in a while, I reminisce of when I was 15 and thought I could conquer anything by being smart, a smart-ass, and wearing tall socks and long shorts. Reckless abandon with just enough responsible thought to always produce one of two outcomes (a big win or a small embarrassing loss) - that is how to live in suburbia right? What else are you going to do, a strip mall tour for the umpteenth time?

Listen to this song, sing it in the mirror, and point at yourself, singing the lyrics indicatively, leaning into your image as if you had a mic stand.....

Saturday, May 31, 2014

My (Old) CDs - Dillinger Four - Situationist Comedy

File:Situationist Comedy.jpg

I still really love this album. I still listen to it on the subway going to work sometimes (which is a very general statement, because one of course could listen to a lot of shit on their way to work "sometimes"). I like to describe albums like this as hurling - not the vomiting reference, and not quite the Gaelic sport, more like the strong velocity definition of throwing something with a ton of force. 

Each song on this album has a little twist in the hook or riff that makes it incredibly listenable - the layers of distorted guitar all moving to constantly shifting tempos that hit at just the right moments, the back and forth between the two distinct voices (one raspy, one more guttural) - all kind of combines into a very swarthy sound with a lot of gusto. 

Of course a bonus are the amusing song titles and the lyrics have a bit of variety - a mix of truly irreverent spazz with the former and Midwest, earnest self-awareness and cut through the bullshit, heightened-by-a-couple-of-beers-to-keep-things-honest sound offs with the latter. It's a hell of a lot of fun.

This band should also NOT be confused with that band called D4 from Down Under.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My (Old) CDs - New Found Glory S/T

Winter cleaning happened several months ago, and I had decided to get all of my CDs (compact discs) up into the fancy desktop computer finally after having them sit there, relics of not too long ago, for a couple of years. I'm wondering if it was because when I would go to refresh my iPod Nano (another victim of tech progressing so quickly - remember that Feist commercial?), I would only have a couple of albums to work from just because I purchased them from iTunes and they happened to be sitting there, staring at me track by track. I found it funny that there was album artwork to even bother with because it wasn't a printed thing that I could hold in my hand, I'm just looking at a 200x200 pixel box.

Last one I bought was realistically 7 years ago.
I suddenly missed the music I had hard copies of, simply because I have not been able to keep up with newer music as much anymore and my tastes have probably set in stone for the rest of my days. Anywho, it's fun to dig through my scattershot collection of tasty cuts.

Wait...who am I kidding - "winter cleaning"? More like it's-time-to-have-a-baby cleaning! This kid is 3 months old and screams better than most of the hardcore albums I profess to have.

I'm going middle of the road with my first attempt at this non-newsworthy endeavor. 

New Found Glory - Self Titled Album. Released in 2000. How I came to buying it was simply back in junior year in high school when my buddy Lasky told me to check it out during homeroom. It was in the German classroom - we had four foreign languages - German, Spanish, Russian (which I took simply because you could elect to go to Russia for 2 weeks which I did and it was awesome), and French. We had Latin but only a handful of folks took it.

I was drawn to the colorful album art - realizing it was precious and emo and poppy. The album has a bright sound to it - an upgrade in sheen, if you will, from Nothing Gold Can Stay, which was their previous full length album. Everything is pretty tight and I always thought Jordan's vocals (lead singer) were clean and nice but very high - it took a lot to sing along at his register so often times I was just way off. There are traces of harder sounds - the first track "Better Off Dead" is probably my favorite because the echoing hook at the beginning gives me the sense that I'm listening to a song that is already ahead of me, and then of course the beat breaks down and you sort of have to jump wherever you are.

I listened to this album for the first time in years on the subway the other day and it still sort of holds up just as a fun listen - however, outside of "Vegas" I think it starts to lag in the second half. Knowing their later albums they were heading in a broader, slower sort of sound which I feel like all of those bands that came up in the pop-punk-5-years-into-Warped-Tour era gravitated toward with their 3rd and 4th albums. 

I also never knew why they needed a rhythm guitar and lead guitar other than extra crunch. I guess I should list that as a positive because there's a very prevalent spicy tuna crunch on this album - it's as if the treble was turned up and bass turned down on your stereo but they just decided to record it like that beforehand. The lyrics are a lot of yearning - I loved that shit man, especially coming from all Nirvana all the time, I sort of needed a breather (also coupled with the fact that when I started to play songs with folks in high school and eventually be in a high school band, I sort of needed slightly easier songs to play).

Their music video for "Dressed To Kill", which features Rachel Leigh Cook (that should instantly put you in the year 2000 for sure) I thought I could relate to until I realized I was such a nerd creeper in high school and this music video epitomizes emo stalkerdom. 

Now that I remember - I listened to this album so much that one of my NYFA summer camp projects was my own music video to "Hit Or Miss" which was their most well-known hit from this record (and re-recorded from Nothing Gold Can Stay). It was pretty terrible, the premise was boy meets girl in an ice cream shop (there was this ice cream shop off the Princeton campus with the cutest girl who actually laughed at a stupid joke of mine and therefore I was probably like 'marry me please'). Turns out, the boy is an idiot and has awful timing because he spends the next day trying to find her before she leaves on a random train (she wasn't at the coffee shop, she wasn't at the park, etc.). The issue with this premise is that she's probably just going to come back to work the next day so he didn't really need to be all that urgent with the silly love letter he handed to her at the last minute. Unless it was a metaphorical train representing her interest leaving the station, which is probably more artistic. All of this is happening while your ears are being massacred by the song for 3 minutes. 

How this video, which I included in my portfolio, helped get me into NYU Film I'll never understand but never question either....

Maybe I'll transfer it from my old VHS copies (which I hope I still have) and get it up on the YouTubes so you can see why I didn't get along with too many of my film school colleagues. 

Thanks New Found Glory, for making me think I could use new school pop-punk love songs to get anywhere in life when I was 15. 

- Later Gators (NFG is from Florida so I guess I can sign off with this)