Monday, October 25, 2010

Your Punk Rock Halloween Playlist

Attention all you Halloweenies! This coming Sunday is All Hallows' Eve, which means you should have your costumes ready, stockpiles of candy waiting and be bumping your favorite Halloween tunes. Not sure what to listen to this year? No problem. We've got you covered. Take a look below for the best creep-tastical tunes to round out your Rocktober.

Well, this one's just obvious. You can't go wrong with horror-punk, and The Misfits do it best of all. "Halloween" is filled with spooky lyrics about dead bodies and the like, while being fast enough to be called punk. Plus, if you're hurting for a costume this year, consider rocking your Misfits inspired Devilock for that Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein look.

From First To Last - Note to Self
Nothing like Sonny Moore era FFTL to send chills down your spine. What's more suited for Halloween than the video for "Note To Self"? A creepy mental hospital, a horror movie-esque plot and nightmarish sequences rip through live shots of the band performing. Want more? Just browse through their catalog. "The Latest Plague" and "Ride The Wings of Pestilence" will quench your thirst for all things spooky.

AFI - Silver and Cold
Compared to the others on this list, "Silver and Cold" comes in quite tame. But don't count AFI out on the spook scale. "Silver and Cold" is an intense rock song with a dark video attached to it. It takes place in Prague, and shows lead singer Davey Havok at the cusp of a near suicide attempt, while his bandmates race through city streets to save him. Havok symbolically lets go of earthly time (his watch) and relationships (his ring) by dropping them into the river before his would be plunge. But he turns back, just as his bandmates' car slams into a truck and explodes. As Havok departs the scene he puts on his coat... and wait, did his arm just pass through someone's body? Like a ghost? Oh, weird...

Rock music at a wake? In one of those creepy cathedrals? Leave it to the patron saints of new-wave emo to do it. And damn, did they do it well. The song itself is about death, and the video only accentuates it. Everyone is dressed in black, it's raining out and the corpse even comes alive for a little dance number during the prayer (or the breakdown, however you want to look at it).

This one's for all you hardcore metal heads out there. "Demonology and Heartache" is one of the most riveting tracks off Atreyu's 2004 release, The Curse. Lyrically, the song takes on the darker side of things. Two parts blood and guts mixed with one part broken hearts makes for the perfect cryptic tune. What better for Halloween than a song from a veteran Ozzfest band?

There's probably nothing creepier than Aiden lead singer, Wil Francis', side project, William Control. Off Control's debut album, "Strangers" chronicles a woman's wish to die in an underground London sex club. In fact, the song is so dark that it was picked as a track for the Saw V soundtrack. It's like a nightmare for your ears.

There you have it, kids. Crank these tunes and enjoy the spook fest.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nothing New Under The Sun

Message boards are abuzz with opinions regarding My Chemical Romance's first single, "Na Na Na" off their yet to be released album, Danger Days: True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys. While the banter includes "diehards" claiming which of MCR's old stuff was best, you wouldn't be hard pressed to find comments of the following nature:

"New MCR rocks!" or "This is so different, but so amazing" or even, "So different, yet so My Chemical Romance"

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on, kids. Different? New? No.

While, yes, "Na Na Na" is a step in a new direction for the band, the truth is that this song is nothing new. In fact, you, or even your mother, may have heard something oddly similar before.

First off, have a listen to the MCR version. Note the signature guitar and bass line. Get it stuck in your head.

Now, check out the tune, "I'm a Mess" off the EP by the Michigan band, Elm Street Riot. And something of note, this song was released in early 2010, well before the MCR version.

Weird, huh? Just wait, there's another shocker coming. In fact, go get your parents. You guys may find out that your musical tastes aren't that different after all.

Ever heard of the Easybeats? They're from way back in the '60s (hence why you should get your parents). Take a listen to their 1966 single, "I'll Make You Happy", and see if it sounds familiar.

And there you have it. New? Soooo My Chemical Romance? No. Sorry, not at all. "Na Na Na" is a good song, but don't kid yourself. It's all been done before. MCR have just put a fresh spin on it, and it's up to you to decide whether or not this recycled tune is worth your money.

*Backstage Press would like to thank our correspondent J.A. for the reporting on this post*

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another Station, Another Mile DVD Review

Rise Against recently entered the studio to begin work on their follow up to 2008's Appeal To Reason, but not before giving fans a real introspective into their band. Last week, the Chicago quartet released a documentary DVD entitled, Another Station, Another Mile, which outlines everything from their live show and touring to recording and their daily lives.

The DVD has 14 live songs performed at six different venues across the globe. Footage was taken from their summer 2009 shows at the House of Blues in Boston, Chicago's Lollapalooza, Germany's Area 4 Festival and even an acoustic performance by lead singer Tim McIlrath in a Budapest subway.

Another Station comes packed with an ability to hook the viewer from beginning to end. That's most likely due to the way the footage has been structured. Unlike most every other music DVD, Another Station jumps between one live performance and a few minutes of actual documentary.

That's probably the brilliance of it. One minute you're watching a live rendition of "Survive" at Lollapalooza, and the next you're watching drummer Brandon Barnes shop for vintage cars. It's not just one straight concert with backstage bonus footage like a ton of other music "documentaries" out there.

Besides music and interviews, the DVD is packed with Rise Against describing their local music scenes, a profile on their crew, and of course, a touch of the band's views on politics and animal rights. Everything is summed up nicely.

As far as the actual footage goes, most cuts have been done well. The live footage is clear, covered from a variety of angles and most importantly, left completely unedited.

In fact, the documentary opens with the following statement from Rise Against:
"Since we put together our last DVD, the snowball that is Rise Against is still gathering size and speed. What you hold in your hands is the continuing story of our band, what it means to us, and what it means to people like you. At our request, all the live footage you see in the DVD is completely unedited; meaning we didn't go back and fix or re-do anything. We felt it should stand or fall on its own merit, and be embraced for what it is, which is live music. Who knows, maybe we'll feel differently next year. But for now, the moments are captured raw as we make our way to another station: another mile."
The sound quality remains clear, and because of the unedited nature of the live performances, every vocal inaccuracy and tuning mishap (though few and far between) is represented.

So is this worth your 11 bucks? If you're into Rise Against, even in the slightest, it's a must have. As mentioned, it's one of the few documentaries that's an actual documentary. Plus, it will hold you over until their new record is released in spring 2011. You can't go wrong.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why Blink-182 Were Bound To Break Up

Back in late '04 blink-182 disbanded. Calling it an "indefinite hiatus," the pop-punk trio went their separate ways to pursue other musical ventures. We all know Tom DeLonge's Angels & Airwaves, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker's short stint as +44, Hoppus' producing work and Barker's hip-hop collaborations. They left many in shock as to how such a massive band could up and leave despite having a worldwide following.

The five year hiatus is still a mystery to most everyone, with only bits and pieces of information scattered between interviews, documentaries and YouTube videos. But what this article argues is that the hiatus was inevitable, and if we as fans simply listened (harder) to their music, the story would be clear to us.

What I'm talking about is blink's last record to date, their self-titled album that dropped about a year before what many thought was blink's final show. Let's look at that collection of 14 songs a little deeper to see exactly why blink was bound to break up after making that record.

Perhaps what makes this record so "grown up" or "dark" is that it never flowed like any other blink record. What listeners got were fragments of each member's musical interests. Though the record as a whole remains damn near amazing, there's an obvious divide which can be attributed to each member.

Hoppus' part:
During his post-blink career, Hoppus played in +44, the backlash and often darker side of his pop-punk roots. Songs like "When Your Heart Stops Beating" and "No It Isn't" sounded as if they easily could have fit in on blink's self-titled record.

It wouldn't be hard to substitute those songs in for perhaps "Stockholm Syndrome" or "Here's Your Letter" - both darker, edgier and stripped down to bare rock 'n' roll. It can be argued that Hoppus' influence on blink's last record to date was a calling for something more punk-rock.

After hearing +44, it's obvious that Hoppus' talents and interests, musically and lyrically, toward the end of blink were geared toward that edge and punk atmosphere that's touched upon on the self-titled record.

DeLonge's part:
What a whirlwind Mr. Tom DeLonge gave us after his days in blink. His loyal followers were promised music that would change their lives and the world. Instead what we got was this retro-80s, heavy synth'd, space epic with six-minute-long songs.

Most listeners were probably wondering where the hell any of this came from, when all they had to do was pop in blink's self-titled record for answers. The ending to that CD stands simply as a precursor to AVA's style.

Have a listen to "I'm Lost Without You." The 6-minute and 21-second track has all the classic AVA elements. There's its length, the dragged out choruses, piano parts, odd vocal arrangements and the digital delay pedal cranked to 11.

"Lost" is unlike anything blink had ever done to date, and it showed DeLonge's musical interests moving in a new direction away from blink. It's no coincidence he's the only vocalist on the entire track.

For more proof, listen to the beginning of "Asthenia" and compare it to the beginning of AVA's "Valkyrie Missile." Sound similar?

Barker's part:
Before joining +44, Barker spent most of his hiatus with The Transplants - his hip-hop infused band, alongside Rancid's Tim Armstrong and Skinhead Rob. The Transplants, along with Barker's other musical
interests were more than present on blink's self-titled album.

Take for instance "The Fallen Interlude." The only track without lyrics, letting the drummer speak with his beats rather than his words. And what ensues? A track as close to hip-hop as blink has ever gotten.

Add to that Tim Armstrong's cameo on "Obvious" and all you start to hear is the hip-hop element to the record, along with the direction Barker has been going since.


Each song on the self-titled album can take the listener in a number of directions. From what was talked about above, to the classic blink elements in "Feeling This" and other songs, and even to the album's fresh artwork, what fans got was one of the most complex and emotional records the trio may ever put out.

There was no way of knowing that a hiatus would occur simply from listening to the CD, but looking back (now six years later), everything can be a bit more clear if you buy into the aforementioned.

Maybe the guys were just gearing us up for what was to come. You know, getting us used to the music that would sustain us all through the long hiatus. Maybe it was all subconscious and unplanned. That's still as much a mystery as the breakup itself.

But one thing is for certain. Blink-182 are back together and promising us an album soon. Maybe this time we'll keep our ears open to the sounds, and hear just what it is we're listening to.
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