Archive for the 'Punk' Category

25
May
12

Chronic Future “Lines In My Face”

Another personal favorite of mine to catch the -itis. Chronic Future had one hit in the summer of 2004 with “Time and Time Again” but never sustained any type of popularity due to a terrible job of marketing, but more importantly, America’s growing taste for terrible music. I’m looking at you Beliebers.

But Chronic Future holds a special place in my heart for speaking out in an era of uncertainty in my younger life. Back in 2005 there were rumblings of a military draft to support the growing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most bands turned completely against government, military, and the troops.

The usual wartime rumblings of abuse, babykillers, and torture circulated and they began calling these two plights my generation’s Vietnam.

So, while yes I was terrified to see if our then-president was going to make a life decision for me, I felt that the soldiers in this conflict were getting the short end of the stick. Painted in a terrible public view, all while fighting “insurgents” with no real barometer for winning this war.

So while the outlash against the establishment raged in the usual punk circles. Chronic Future took a different approach. These were our friends giving life and limb in a country exactly halfway across the world where they baked in the desert all while our national media and pop-culture turned on them.

With songs like “Time and Time Again” and “Shellshocked” they reminded me that they were more than the average punk band.

They had a unique way of saying what everyone felt. Saying what I felt but couldn’t verbalize.

It’s still difficult for me to fathom. My respect for the people that make these sacrifices so you and I can go about our day like we always do. To be so against what they have to do, but support them for doing it. It’s a conundrum that gets lost on most people who just throw their friends, their family, into a group of soulless and heartless bastards because they carry a gun into someone else’s country.

These are our friends, these are our family. These are other peoples’ friends, their family
. They sacrifice years, limbs, life. Just so you can buy your coffee at Starbucks. Just so you can go shopping at the mall without the idea of it exploding ever entering your mind.

This weekend is for them. For those that come back to us less than they were. Those that come back stronger than they were. They have made the sacrifices that make our country so great for so long. Do not forget to thank them for what they’ve done for you, even if you haven’t noticed. You haven’t noticed, because they’re doing their job.

Happy Memorial Day everyone. Thank a troop this weekend.

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28
Mar
12

AWOLnation “Megalithic Symphony”

AWOLnation is frontman Aaron Bruno, formerly of Under the Influence of Giants, Christopher Thorn, Hayden Scott, David Amezcua, and Kenny Carkeet. The band’s name was derived from Bruno’s inexplicable avoidance to say ‘goodbye’ to anyone, hence the term AWOL.

They are signed to Red Bull Records, after Red Bull offered Bruno some free studio time where he recorded a couple songs for the band’s first album Back From Earth

You’ve undoubtedly heard the first single from the album “Sail” all through last summer and fall. As this album was released in March 2011.

They have a unique mix of punk and electronic music that brings out the best of both worlds. They are what, to me, is a perfect amalgamation to be an appealing live show. No completely pre-recorded tracks *cough* Skrillex *cough* or a DJ just sitting there tapping buttons on a sound board with an Apple symbol burning into your forehead. This style preserves the uniqueness and fun that a live show should offer.

They are the epitome of what music has lost in the past decade of the digital revolution. Something that is embodied by the Foo Fighters (and probably why we still love them) and this carries over to AWOLnation as well. FUN.
Just having fun with what you’re doing, you make music, you’re not going to get Isreal and Palestine to drop their guns Bono. You’re not going to stop the killing in Sudan by standing outside an embassy in the USA George Clooney.

Somewhere along the way musicians forgot their place. You’re here to entertain us. You want to spend all that money you make off of album sales to help those people? Go ahead. But to preach to the public that WE need to do more is stupid, especially considering you don’t pay taxes in Ireland (of all places) U2.

Hypocrisy runs rampant when you make a ton of money and tell people to do more with theirs. Which is why the term “they sold out” permeates bands that we once held near and dear (yes, Green Day too.) Remember when they were just about having fun? Now we have to listen to “Jesus of Suburbia” yuck.

AWOLnation reminds me of a time when bands knew what they were their purpose was. That they were making a living traveling the globe and brightening peoples’ days. Megalithic Symphony is just that, an album that let’s you find meaning in your own way.

“Not Your Fault” is a perfect example of this. They took an opportunity to make a really heavy handed music video but took the road that seems to be cracked and unkempt. They had fun with it. So besides these two singles that’ve made waves on the charts, my favorite track has to be “People” as it gives a nice little gem that speaks to me as the problem with the world today:

We were born to rage
We’re the price of pain
We’re a single voice
We’re the second choice
We were born to rage

What happened to our passion and sticking together? Where is the next great revolution going to come from? What is the next big “movement” going to be? It feels like between the government and corporate America, we’ve lost the world that was once our oyster. That it feels nobody can change it, that the machine is just too big to throw a cog into. That’s what this song says to me and this is why punk rock will live on; even if the sound we remember from the 80’s and 90’s has changed.

I found something in Megalithic Symphony that I like. A different sound in a time where punk bands seem to be a dying breed. Where the next generation identifies more with electronic beeps and boops than they do lyrics that help them understand and derive answers to the world.

Bob Dylan is not amused.

4/5

21
Mar
12

Black Keys Boston Show Print – Dan McCarthy

If you have followed this blog in the past you are well aware of HiFi Centrals obsession with limited edition art created for rock bands.  Last year I ran a month long posting about “The Art of the Music Business” and highlighted several of my favorite prints and also the artists who have mastered and re-defined this medium.  Granted, rock art posters are nothing new we can thank the legendary Bill Graham for much of the popularity even today.

I’m a huge fan of The Black Keys and so is fellow blogger NYMike (read the prior post about his show review at Madision Square Garden).  One of my favorite artists is the guy out of Massachussetts named Dan McCarthy; my wife and I have several of his prints and he always seems to come up with fun and imaginitive designs consistently.  I happened to check out his website this morning and noticed that he created a print for a recent show (March 7th) at the TD Garden in Boston; apparently they were also on sale at the event as well.  Dan posted that he will have a limited amount available on his site later this month.

His prints usually sell around $40 and go quick, so check out www.danmccarthy.org to and see ifyou can snag yourself one when released.  Let us know if you get one too!

01
Dec
11

Last.fm

In the digital age we live in music has excelled, not beyond anything we thought it might become, but in how it’s delivered to us. The past 20 years saw the decline of the cassette tape, compact disc, and physical formatting is now all but dead.

So as physical media phases out we turn to more convenient ways of obtaining music (not always done legally now is it?) from services such as Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, and most famously: Napster.

So we learned that the RIAA severely dislikes not making money on album sales… so we downloaded even more, torrenting sites becoming more and more popular, The Pirate Bay, for example.

Now I don’t know about you, but in my education I’ve found out that artists usually sign a contract and make most of their money up front. A label will give you, say, $2 million, to buy equipment, record, produce, create music videos, and finish an album. How much of that gets spent on production is usually at the band and manager’s discretion. They are then, most of the time, offered some ridiculously low royalty percentage that means even less after you divide it up between band members and management.

So artists generally don’t make that much off of album sales, but usually off of touring. Ever notice that’s why Bruce Springsteen doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about putting out new albums but will sell out stadiums on a yearly basis? Or that U2’s music has been in steep decline since the late 80s but still manage to have gigantic concerts where they rake in obscene amounts of fans a.k.a. money? (And they don’t even pay taxes to the Irish government!)

Before my tenure at Hi-Fi started I was dealt several cease and desist letters for uploading music just to my former blog’s domain just for personal use. Talk about touchy by the record companies!

So where’m I going with all of this? Well, today’s digital music playground is found through music streaming services such as Spotify, Grooveshark, iTunes, SHOUTcast, Pandora and the least famous… Napster.

I’ve tried using all of those, and iTunes, while on my home computer is fine, because I have my library there too, is not viable on the road. With the rest of these you can build and tag artists/genres you like, but c’mon, that’s a huge hassle for us to list all the bands we like and may have an itch to hear.

Last.fm takes care of that. They have a nifty piece of scrobbling software that will record what songs/artists you play the most, it even makes charts! But by far the best thing is, is that you can take your library with you wherever you go. For free. They offer your library streamed to you, they also offer your library with suggestions for similar artists. Which keeps the likes of Maroon 5 the hell out of my easy listening playlist and doesn’t turn me into a fit of rage.

So, if you’re going places, constantly on the move and let’s say maybe you’re trying to preserve some hard drive space, Last.fm is the way to go, take your own music with you and still gives you a taste of similar artists or you can just play a channel as you would on those other streaming sites.

It gives you everything… and what’s yours.

31
Oct
11

Shonen Knife – Japan’s Punk Queens on Tour!

While checking out the local club scene about upcoming acts online  this past Tuesday I noticed that the legendary Japanese rock trio Shonen Knife was coming to HiFi Central’s stomping ground of Albany, NY.  The venue is Valentine’s which is a shoe-box of a club normally associated with local hardcore and rock acts that I often choose to overlook on a  regular basis; however though, at times they have had some national acts roll through worth checking out.  The last band that  I wished I had known about was the California rock group Dada; one of the best nationally unknown rock bands to come out the 1990’s.  It would have truly been pretty incredible to see them that close and personal, bummer I missed it.

So, after missing that show I’ve checked the listing from time to time just to see who may be randomly doing a one-night stand.  Well, clearly the waiting and random checking of their site has been well worth the effort since Shonen Knife will be dropping by on Sunday, November 20th (18+ show).  Shonen Knife has been around since 1981; the only remaining member making Shonen Knife still Shonen Knife  is lead singer and guitarist Naoko Yamano.  The remaining founding members Atsuko Yamano (Naoko’s sister) and Michie Nakatani left the band to pursue other interests, but the replacements for these members have held their own over the course of the last decade never losing the true Shonen Knife sound.

Over the course of the past 20 years the band has released 19 albums and toured with the likes of  Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Mudhoney, and perhaps the coolest bragging right, Nirvana.  The band has appeared on the BBC with famed rock radio host John Peel,  performed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and has been featured on MTV’s 12o Minutes.  The band was a featured act on 1994’s Lollapalooza tour as well.  So, even though they have not reached the heights of fame since their decade long run in the 1990’s, they still have a loyal following and are anything but a goofy band hanging on to remnants of fame.

HiFi is heading to this show with great anticipation; I would not be surprised if it might be the last chance for you to see them in the US for some while.  This tour is supporting a Ramones tribute album entitled “Osaka Ramones” released this past July, so I’m sure that it should be a fun and unique show!  Get your tickets soon since it will be sold out, especially since Valentine’s only holds about 50 patrons; and be sure sure to bring your earplugs!

HiFi will provide a full review of this show, so check back.

You can check more out about the Valentines show by clicking here.

You can check out some samples of Shonen Knife’s “Osaka Ramones” by clicking here.

11
Oct
11

Motion City Soundtrack Live

Motion City Soundtrack played at Northern Lights on 10.9.2011 and this is what I thought of the show:

The opening bands were hit or miss, the highlight of those being the band Aficianado.

They may not be the best band out there, most of their songs usually follow the same formula *cough* Staind, Linkin Park, Pearl Jam *cough* and I know, they’re not musically inclined other than for that pop/rock radio-play sound. All I say is, so what? They put on a fun show. They are fun guys and they just want people to come and have a good time…

But what really grinds my gears here is the crowd that an otherwise rhythmically pleasing band like Motion City draws…

you know the type

The hipster kids who wear scarves in the summer, the types of kids who have to get thick framed glasses and bring along a measuring tape to find out whose frames are thickest! The types of kids who all have their iPhones out the entire show, trying to record every minute of music so they can run home and upload it to youtube and facebook as to seemingly prove the world wrong: LOOK EVERYONE!!!!!! I went out and have a life! The types of kids who have nose rings. The types of kids that dye their hair pink. The types of kids that shout “Rage!” during a band who has never inspired a headbang to any crowd anywhere, ever. The types of kids where 2 people decide to try and make a mosh pit and crowd surf (in a crowd of maybe 250 people, [it was extremely satisfying to drop him on his head.])

So in short, it just goes to show how followers can ruin a great thing. Religion, I’m looking right at you. Except Bad Religion, they put on an awesome show worth headbanging, moshing and crowd surfing to!

3/5

03
Oct
11

Blink 182 “Neighborhoods”

Blink 182 released their first album since the self titled disc dropped in September 2003. A long hiatus from playing and touring together as each band member went off to do their own thing. Mark Hoppus (bass, vocals) created a couple of TV shows and started producing, Travis Barker (drummer) created collaborations with just about everyone who’d get into the studio with him: Tom Morello, Slash, The Game, Flo Rida, Drake, Eminem, Lil Wayne, and even did a “Stairway to Heaven” cover on American Idol with the likes of Mary J Blige, Steve Vai and Randy Jackson. Tom DeLonge (guitar, vocals) went off and met some commercial success with the band Angels & Airwaves (whose album Love II will drop on 11.11.11)

The first single off Neighborhoods is “Up All Night” and compositionally speaking, it sounds raw and real, much like their albums Dude Ranch and Cheshire Cat, but lyrically picks up where they left off with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and Blink 182

I’m not going to go through this song by song as a normal review, but I’m going to summarize the feel I get from the band:

Maybe it’s just that I grew up with Enema of the State and heard nothing but songs of teenage rambunctiousness lasting well into their twenties, or the social drama that we perceived to make us “cool” or not… they were fun and they were funny. That’s what we loved about the band’s videos and their sound. But this isn’t the same band anymore. You could see the change coming in Pants and Jacket and it really hit home on Blink 182. These guys have grown up. What they’re singing about is some heavier motifs in life. From divorce, depression, abuse (both physical and mental) and they now have a message other than party and have fun.

Is the new Blink worse than the old? Yes and no. They still have the sound that is unmistakably theirs and they can still put on a great show (just saw ’em at SPAC a few weeks ago) with laughter and their immense stage prescence… and Travis’ drum solos (my head would explode if he and Neil Peart did a drum off.) They had glimpses of this on earlier albums, from “Adam’s Song” to “Stay Together for the Kids” to “Easy Target” and “All of This” but never had these songs of seriousness engulfed an entire album.

Blink 182 was a band that got us through, or helped us hold onto, our adolescence and our youth. Now, maybe because most of them now are parents, and are seeing things from the other side of the fence, have a message to the kids who’ve been used and abused by parents and peers.

It’s not a bad thing, it’s just not what we’re used to. You’re going to have to listen and decide for yourself:

3.5/5