Archive for April, 2012

The Offspring, a 90’s power-punk, grunge band, released their last studio album Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace in 2008 and embarked on several touring sprees.  Hype about a new album began to surge across the Internet almost immediately after their first tour and ceased to slow.  Twitter posts on the band’s page, updates on the bands Wikipedia page, and leaked articles fed the fire intensely.  In March 2012, the band announced, again via Twitter, that the new album was complete.  On April 27, 2012, The Offspring released their first new song in four years entitled “Days Go By,” the first single of the new album of the same name.

Days Go By,” (click the link to listen) first and foremost, is a disappointing single, not solely because the song is weak but also because the overall sound just doesn’t resemble the Offspring’s past releases.  This release has been compared to the sound of the Foo Fighters, which is a pretty good assessment.  The song seems to mix punk with pop and bits of country (most prominently on their harmonies.)  The beauty of Rise and Fall was that although it was a modern album produced with modern equipment, it still sounded like classic Offspring around the time of Americana.  Based on this first single, Days Go By may be the first step on the ladder that is the end of classic Offspring.  The lyrics are not particularly strong, the melody not particularly catchy and the music not particularly original.  However, to say “Days Go By” is a bad song would be a gross overstatement, though it does seem like a lukewarm release.  It’s a listenable punk rock song, just not a special one.  Of course, since it sounds like the Foos, it can’t be horrendous.  It’s just not the kind of song Offspring fans were probably hoping for.  Then again, recently many albums’ lead singles have in fact been some of the worst songs on the album, case in point: Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth, Jane’s Addiction’s The Great Escape Artist and even Red Hot Chili Pepper’s I’m With You to a degree.  Fingers crossed that Days Go By will blow everyone away.

Stream Tenacious D’s “Rize of the Fenix”

It’s been six years since the last record from the LA comedy duo, Tenacious D, and after years of hype and build up, Jack Black and Kyle Gass are finally releasing their new album, Rize of the Fenix.  By clicking the above link (red text), you can stream the album before it officially drops on May 15th, 2012.

Rize sounds like the typical “D” album–filled with catchy, goofy acoustic and electric tracks that span from discussing sex to genetilia to rock n’ roll to the history of Tenacious D. The one thing that’s missing from this “Tenacious” album is a song about a demon (“Tribute” on their eponymous debut was about an encounter with a “shiny demon” and the entire Pick of Destiny record is about finding a pick forged from Satan’s tooth) but they make up for it with “Throw Down,” a track about Moses and Jesus.  Enjoy this record–it certainly brings relevancy back to the band.  Expect a full album review at some point.

Listen to the above song and then think about the following:

Sometimes, when we hear a band say, “Okay, now we’re gonna’ do a cover,” we hope that they’ll play the song exactly as it was originally performed. As humans, we feel more comfortable with something familiar. “I often prefer songs I know to new ones,” says Miriam Akabas, a New Yorker who frequented many Grateful Dead concerts during the band’s prime. The Dead were known to constantly cover other artists’ work, but their covers sounded so incredibly Grateful Deadish that it was usually near-impossible to differentiate between an original Dead composition and a cover.
Nonetheless, isn’t it somewhat creatively lacking if an artist covers a song exactly like the original recording? Sure, it’s seriously bold to try to perform a song just like the original artist who actually wrote that song, especially if that artist is an established and renowned musician, but it’s even ballsier to take that song and make it your own.

Jimi Hendrix, considered the greatest guitarist of all time, ironically covered folk legend Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” but the original and cover versions sound totally different. Dylan’s version sounds like most of his work: soft acoustic guitar topped with his distinct harmonica noodling whereas Hendrix’s “Watchtower” starts with one of rock’s most famous and raunchy guitar solos.

Joe Cocker, an underrated singer from the 1960’s and 70’s who actually played at the 1969 Woodstock festival in Bethel, New York, covered The Beatles “With a Little Help From My Friends” off the Fab Four’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Beatles’ version is a poppy song traditional of British Invasion style music whereas Cocker’s cover is a heavy jam filled with power chords, organ solos and texture upon texture of solid rock and roll.

Ben L’Oncle Soul takes the White Stripes classic hit, “Seven Nation Army,” a raw, riff-driven blues song and transforms it into a happy reggae-soul track. The funny thing is…it works…really well. Sure, some might attack L’Oncle Soul saying that he destroys the Jack White’s (singer, guitarist and main songwriter for the White Stripes) initial intention for the song’s emotional impact. The White Stripe’s “Seven Nation” is slow and dark, but that’s not the vibe L’Oncle Soul is going for. The way he approaches his vocals and the way he delivers the lyrics, line after line after line, jives with the positive mood of his cover. If he sang as ominously as White, then perhaps the song would not work. However, since this is not the case, this is a track that proves that covers can be extremely relevant

Rock: The Rawer the Better

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Editorials
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Here’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Rock and Roll has always been as much about the attitude as the music.  However, in recent years, the sheer power of the genre has somewhat dissipated.  Robert Plant, the lead singer of the legendary Led Zeppelin, exemplifies the raw energy that Rock is purely based on.  While Plant is primarily a singer, he sometimes reaches a point where he is so into his music that he starts screaming, yelling and shouting.  Those bold moments are part of what made him such an outstanding musician and performer alike.

Nowadays, it’s very hard to find music that sounds as unprocessed and fervent as the old tunes.  Artists overproduce their music so tremendously using computer programs like “Pro-tools” that listeners may often wonder whether singers actually sound like their voices are projected on the record.  The older recording devices also gave songs a distinct sound.  Bands such as Coldplay or Nickelback layer every instrument frequently and delete all errors, thus giving their tracks a perfect sound quality production-wise.  However, they have difficulty recreating the same sound live, an issue that few older bands struggle with.  The Grateful Dead are even considered to sound better live, in fact, than in studio, as they are not restrained by having to make sure a song is “radio friendly.”

Countless modern rock bands claim to have been influenced by groups such as the Ramones, Sex Pistols and Nirvana.  These bands made their living off wavering from the tide, refusing to make “better sounding” music.  While it is not easy to make out all of the Ramones’ lyrics due to the quality of their sound recording, it would go against everything “Ramone” if they allowed for their music to be “cleaned up.”

As soon as you play a classic rock record, listen for the quiet fuzz of the tape turning that is audible even on re-mastered tracks.  Even that tiny announcement of the start of a song has been eliminated by modern production.

True Rock and Roll is a man sitting in a room, playing a guitar and singing.  Put that on a record and you have music; that is, music full of attitude.