Archive for March, 2012

So this is my first video blog ever–I figured I’d try it out

I thought it would be fitting to start vlogging by reviewing my personal favorite recording artists, Bruce Springsteen.  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band was the first concert I ever attended (at either the Today Show or Madison Square Garden, depending on your definition of a “concert.”)

 

The new album is really great and I highly recommend you pick it up if you like rock, folk, and Bruce Springsteen-esque music (singer-songwriter, rock and roll type stuff.)

Let me know what you think of the album and of my first video ever!

No Age at Brandeis University

Posted: March 20, 2012 in Reviews

No Age at Chum's Coffeehouse, Brandeis Univeristy

No Age, a rather unknown noise-punk band from Los Angeles, California recently embarked on a college tour, making stops at Wesleyan University, University of Pittsburgh, Bennington College, University of Delaware and my home for the next four years, Brandeis University.

I caught No Age at Brandeis on March 10th, 2012 at the intimate Chums Coffeehouse.  In all honesty, I had not heard of No Age before my friend told me of their upcoming appearance at the university, but after perusing their library, I became infatuated with several songs including “Eraser,” “Fever Dreaming,” and “Everybody’s Down.”

A band consisting of Brandeis students opened for No Age and the crowd was relatively subdued, but as soon as No Age blasted through a noisy, power-chord driven number that I did not recognize, the whole floor of this tiny coffee shop became one giant mosh pit, comparable to one at a CBGBs in the 1980s.  People were crowd surfing, falling on the stage, running and jumping at each other.  One fan even went so far as to leap up and wrap his arms and legs around a pipe lining the building’s ceiling, almost pulling the whole roof down with him.

The band was clearly enjoying the crowd as drummer and singer Dean Allen Spunt laughed and smiled throughout the whole show.  I was rather disappointed that I did not hear “Eraser,” but was ecstatic when they ripped through a powerful rendition of “Fever Dreaming.”  I found myself practically on the stage for that.

The best way to describe a No Age concert is nice and LOUD.  They turn their amps and feedback up to 11, in the words of Spinal Tap.  Since the music they choose to play mostly consists of their louder, rockier material rather than their mellower songs,  the concert becomes more of a punk show rather than an indie concert, as many might assume.  One major issue I encountered was that Dean’s microphone was quieter than guitarist Randy Randall’s amps, so it was somewhat difficult to make out the lyrics, but other than that, No Age really rocked the house.  The crowd was absolutely loving it!

Overall, I enjoyed myself and if they played more of a variety of music at a large stadium, then I would recommend grabbing tickets. I cannot say, however, that I would be aching to see No Age again in such a tiny venue (though, that’s less the band’s fault and more the venue’s fault.)   Nonetheless, No Age provided an immense amount of entertainment on a Saturday night (especially considering the show was free.)

Below are some links to videos of the show at Brandeis:

Fever Dreaming: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZimR6YTeXo

Brain Burner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfOSpVIWAEA

Teen Creeps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gryfcPYHztk

Chem Trails: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr-qXr99Bog

On March 14th, 2012, just months after dropping his fantastic debut mixtape Sleep Well, rapper Bottaboom posted the following note on his facebook page:

Before Moving On…

Hey everyone, this is going to be a long post, so if you have a short attention span this isn’t for you.

When I started rapping a few years ago, it was to fill the void of a girl who I was infatuated with. It was just a hobby to pass the time. I adopted the name Bottaboom (or botTABOOm, for those of you who are only familiar with this page) and began rapping, and I put out music, thinking I was the sh*t, the King of the 954, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t.

After the initial rush of music I put out, I took a step back to start from scratch again. I went under the radar for at least a year and half, writing songs in the middle of the night, and keeping them to myself. The only one of those hundreds of songs you have ever, or will ever hear is “Sleeping.” During this year I did everything I could to ensure that when I came back and released something , I would be respected. I studied, yes studied, Reasonable Doubt, Illmatic, and other classic albums, and expanded my musical palette to more genres. After over a year of not releasing music an experience I had this summer inspired me to begin work on “Sleep Well.” I realized that it was possible to release music independently and make a name for yourself in the underground.

Even though I released a mixtape that I could be proud of and received love from popular college music blogs and respect from people around me, something didn’t feel right to me. I’m humbled that many people connect with the music I’ve been writing, but I need to worry about my connection with it first and the image that I create with that music. There is still a bittersweet memory in my mind of the overzealous rapper “Bottaboom,” but I feel that for my career and future in music, I must change my moniker. There is nothing in a name. The artist makes the name, but I feel like in my mind Bottaboom is no more, and I have entered a new era of making music.

I’m going to be producing 95% of the music that I release from here on out, and only working with a small circle of producers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that lingo, it means that the beat that gets your head nodding will be made by me as well as the lyrics. This means that I can expand my sound and control the whole creative process. It also means that although the quantity of music I release will not be as much as other rappers, the quality will be more focused and refined. I was a singer before I was rapper, and I will be singing more as well as doing covers of artists I love.

A lot of people cannot admit this about themselves, but as a person and an artist I’m changing. It’s a part of life; shit happens. I’m going to start over and write a new chapter. If you like my old music please do not feel like I want you to delete it, stop sharing it, or stop listening to it. We can move on, but we can never forget.  If you’ve made it this far, God bless and thank you.

Sincerely, Luke Bahta a.k.a. Quiet Luke—formerly  known as botTABOOm

 

It’s truly sad to learn that we cannot look forward to new songs like those off Sleep Well, but simultaneously, the above note is extremely uplifting.  Those are the words of a reflective and hardworking person who looked at his art and said, “this isn’t what I want,” not because someone else didn’t like it (because Sleep Well was received by nothing but positive reception) but simply because he was unsatisfied.  Based on his releases as Bottaboom, I can only begin to speculate about the musical quality that Luke Bahta’s releases will display.

Please, by all means, like his new alter ego on facebook and with that, The Sound Hound bids Bahta the best of luck!

“I don’t think there’s a lonesome bone in the Van Halen body,” singer David Lee Roth said at a recent  acoustic session, perfectly explaining his band, Van Halen, and their newest release, A Different Kind of Truth.

Van Halen, best known for tunes such as “Hot For Teacher,” “Jump,” and “Eruption,” were one of the most popular hard rock and metal bands throughout the late 1970s and ‘80s.  The band, currently composed of singer David Lee Roth, guitarist Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Wolfgang Van Halen, is famously known to have undergone several lineup changes.  After the release of the smash 1984, “Diamond Dave” Roth departed from the contingent, and the other three members (then E. Van Halen, A. Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony) regrouped with a new singer, Sammy Hagar, who then brought the band to a new level of sell-out mainstream rock-pop, though they came out with some good material.

A Different Kind of Truth, which is the first to feature Roth on vocals since 1983’s 1984, is almost a gift to fans of classic Van Halen.  The record rocks hard all the way through, just like any other Roth-era album, but unlike 1984, A Different Kind of Truth finds itself planting its feet deep within the blues-rock subgenre.  Reaching back to the mid and late 70s, it leaves behind synths and other qualities more popular during the 80’s.  These songs are pure muscle topped off with a magnificent “Rothian” hook.

The band received negative feedback for A Different Kind of Truth’s first single, “Tattoo.”  Though the track is widely known to have been based upon an old Van Halen concert staple, “Tattoo” is without doubt the weakest song on the whole album.  Why the band would choose to release it as both a single and the album’s opening track will never be understood.  It’s hard to imagine someone who actually cares enough about Roth’s body to want to hear a song that only discusses his tattoos.  Not to mention that the chorus is neither catchy nor intricately written.

The second and song, “She’s the Woman,” should have taken “Tattoo’s” position as the opening track.  It sounds just like a classic Van Halen song with an extremely raunchy and bada*s riff, complimented by Alex and Wolfgang Van Halen’s skillful rhythm.  Roth displays that he still is “Diamond Dave,” the one and only, adding his classic screams and howls.  Any band other than Van Halen could not have composed this hook and chorus—”She’s the Woman” is such a Van Halen-y song and could easily fit on Van Halen or Van Halen II. 

Only several other songs, namely “Stay Frosty,” “Outta’ Space” and perhaps “Blood and Fire” compare to “She’s the Woman,” which, like “Tattoo” is based upon an older Van Halen demo. The entire album packs a tremendous punch, though some of the tracks seem just plain noisy rather melodically hard rocking.  “China Town” is a prime example of such a musical mess.  It starts with a cool keyboard pattern reminiscent of tracks off 1984 or 5150, the band’s first album with Sammy Hagar after Roth’s departure.  A noisy guitar riff quickly replaces that synth sound, creating an abrupt change in the instrumentation.  Like “China Town,” A Different Kind of Truth’s subpar tracks seem as though they might have been written as filler material.

Nonetheless, while A Different Kind of Truth is not a perfect album, it is home to a stash of good songs and maintains a fun, energetic, aggressively rock-and-roll-ish mood from start to finish.  It’s great to hear Roth and the Gang again and Any it’s obvious from their music that they’re happy to be performing again.  Welcome back, boys.

Kwyet Kinks, the EP that includes "A Well Respected Man."

The version of "Original Faubus Fables" that includes vocals was first released on this record.

In my Rock and Roll History class which focuses on jazz, the blues, some country and some other sub-genres, I have been writing weekly journal entries regarding my thoughts on one of the many songs to which I have been assigned to listen.  Here are the first two.  There will be more of these coming.

 

“A Well Respected Man” – The Kinks

The Kinks’ music was relatively simple, dominated by basic power chords and, in the case of “A Well Respected Man,” straightforward open chords.  Simple music was new to popular-music fans, and the British Invasion, a movement in which the Kinks were heavily involved, introduced a new type of popular music.  This music combined rock and roll, the blues and folk all into one genre.  Previous genres of popular music, predominantly jazz and Chicago blues, were extremely complex, including many improvised sections and large ensembles of musicians.  Even early rock and roll artists like Elvis were often accompanied by large backing bands.  1960s garage rock, somewhat more than 1950s rock and roll, showed that simplicity can often provide equal if not higher quality than complexity.

Furthermore, the lyrics of “A Well Respected Man” act as a critique on common society.  It begins discussing the advantages of being punctual and neat and clean, discussing the “perfect” behavior and lifestyle.   The song then turns around to point out the reality of life with lines such as “his mother goes to meetings, while his father pulls the maid.” The song proceeds to praise these “informalities,” which are part of everyday life, just as it had previously praised societal properness, having punctuality and a clean disposition. The Kinks, swimming against the current of their time, not only in their music but also in their lyrics, point out the flaws of a supposedly respectable society.

 

“Original Faubus Fables” – Charles Mingus

Probably the most political jazz song ever, bassist and composer Charles Mingus’ “Original Faubus Fables” directly attacks governor Orval E. Faubus of Arkansas who was responsible for the alleged 1957 Little Rock Crisis.  Mingus, who, alongside drummer Dannie Richmond, sings lead vocals, commences the rather long number with a facetious remark, calling Faubus  “the first or second or third American hero.”  The song’s pace remains constant, comparing Faubus as well as the U.S. government to the Nazis, begging “no more swastikas…no more Ku Klux Klan!”  Unlike other political songwriters, Mingus does not slyly hint at his point; he declares it clearly:

“Name me someone who’s ridiculous, Dannie.  Governer Faubus!…he’s a fool!  Boo!  Nazi Fascist supreme…name me a handful that’s ridiculous…Faubus, Rockefeller, Eisenhower.”

Mingus and Richmond not only set the mood with their lyrics but also with their vocals.  They chant and scream their statements with such hatred and anger that the listener can only begin to imagine what they must be feeling.

Additionally, the instrumentation behind “Original Faubus Fables” remains with the traditional jazz “jam” direction, allowing every musician at least one solo or opportunity to improvise.  However, the song begins with a tightly orchestrated, dark, ominous groove, out of which a growling, rip-roaring saxophone bursts every now and then.  At high points in the instrumental sections, one can even hear Mingus scatting along to the music, simply unable to control his emotions, a point that embodies all of Jazz.  Jazz music is about expressing yourself in ways that one could not do outside of a studio or a performing arts center and Mingus allows himself to let go and embrace his emotions to the point of emitting presumably improvised noises and sounds simply because of his closeness to the music’s mood and purpose.  Few songs have displayed anything close to the sheer power of “Original Faubus Fables.