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LONG BLOG

The Damned Things, Ghostface Killah, Baths, and My Chemical Romance

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Merry Christmas Eve everyone! To celebrate Christmas we did absolutely jacksquat because, frankly, I forgot Christmas was this weekend until today. Yay! I think Kraid had something planned but he's lazy. Lazy and Canadian. I don't even know if they get a Christmas. I'm pretty sure Santa "Jesus" Claus doesn't visit them. Though I do here just in case they leave out bacon and beer for him.

Anyhow, it's holiday season at the Xzylian household and I'm about to do some good ol' fashion Christmas Eve gamin'. This week the pickins are slim but the choices are ace. The Damned Things, Ghostface Killah, Baths, and My Chemical Romance finish off 2010 here at Stereotoid. Check back next week for our Best Of 2010!



Album: Ironiclast
Artist: The Damned Things
Label: Mercury Records
Released: December 14, 2010
Genre: Hard Rock
Sub-genres Metal, 70's/80's-esque metal especially. A bit of Southern Metal too.
Sounds like: Fucking Rock N' Roll man!

Hey guys, remember when music used to rock? When you could have fun and actually party to rock n' roll, rather than thrash about and/or mope on the wall in your way-too-fucking-small Death Cab For Cutie shirt? Well, prepare to relive those memories because, holy shit, The Damned Things are here on the scene now. And these guys are certified awesome. Singer Keith Buckley once said that The Damned Things mainly got together because they were “Sick of all that boy meets girl shit in rock n' roll...we want rock to be fun again.” Well sir, mission accomplished and then some.

Now, The Damned Things may be a new group, but none of these people are new to the music scene. The latest in the long line of 'supergroups' that tend to crop up a lot, this band is actually pretty damn star-studded. You've got guitarists Scott Ian (!) and Rob Caggiano of Anthrax, singer Keith Buckley (!!!!!!) and Josh Newton from Every Time I Die, and guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy. Before you ask, yes that means there are three guitarists and, yes, two guys from Fall Out Boy are now hanging out with a bunch of huge metal stars. But before you decide to hate the band just for that, I advise you hold that thought for a bit...see, what most people don't know is Joe Trohman is actually a stellar guitarist, and in this band he absolutely shines. So much that he's actually lead. Yes, you read that right- some wuss from Fall Out Boy is able to hang with your precious Anthrax buddies.

As for the music itself, well, it's just plain awesome. Every member brings something different to the table, and it all combines into a potent combination of loud and heavy rock with more than a little inspiration in the riff-heavy metal of old school legends like Zep and Sabbath. The guitarwork from these guys, as expected from a band with three guitarists, is phenomenal and has some of the best solos I've heard all year. And speaking of, I would like to direct everybody to the solo in Friday Night (Going Down In Flames) for anyone that doubts Joe Trohman's place in this band.

Another thing worth noting is every member also finds a way to try something a bit different from what you'd expect given their current bands, and it really helps make them sound like something that isn't your typical “Wait, they sound just like their old band” nonsense. So while you'll still hear Keith Buckley's godlike screaming abilities, you'll also notice a surprising focus on singing from him, with a wide variety of octaves and pitches, showing just how talented the man really is as a vocalist. And while you don't hear any thrash-metal madness from Scott and Rob, the backing rhythms they produce are still awesome nonetheless, which also pertains to Josh's bass licks as well. But perhaps the best news for you guys? Not a hint of pop-punk shenanigans from Joe and Andy. Yes I'm sticking up for them a lot in this review. You know why? Because they're fucking talented, and that fact has never shined so brightly than in this band.

But really, every member present is hella talented, and it shows with just how great this album is. Could I find a fault with this album? No, which is a first for me. I could talk forever about the unforgettable riff in We've Got A Situation Here, or the awesomely shout it out loud chorus to Bad Blood, or any other track on this album to be honest. I really only wanted this album at first because I'm a huge fan of Every Time I Die and would buy anything associated with them. I didn't expect anything as good as this. If you like hard rock or heavy metal, be that from the past or the present, then get this album. And keep an eye out for them in the future as well.

Personal favorite tracks: All of it. But personal faves include Friday Night (Going Down In Flames), We've Got A Situation Here (My vote for best video of the year by the way), Bad Blood (it's a live track, be warned), Handbook For The Recently Deceased

TL;DR: It fucking rocks. Get it.

-vApathyv



Album: Cerulean
Artist: Baths
Label: Anticon
Released: June 22, 2010
Genre: Electronic
Souns like: Flying Lotus with more words and stuff.

Have you ever come across an album that you just simply adored? An album that brang forth incredible emotion and just made you feel warm and happy and safe? I recently was introduced to just such an album on the way home from a Pavement concert. The album is Cerulean by Baths. Baths is the alias for the musician behind the creation of this glorious album, his name is Will Wiesenfeld.

Baths is similar to Flying Lotus in the way that they both make some truly incredible beats. Thats at the root of Will's music but he also does a lot of sampling in his songs and also sings on many of them, which you don't usually find in a Flying Lotus song. As I said earlier this album really invokes a lot of emotion in me, that's why I feel the name “Baths” is appropriate. When you listen to this album you kind of feel like you're lying in a nice warm bath. You just feel like you're safe and nothing bad is going to happen, as if during the duration of the album you're in a protective warm bubble and you're floating through a dream. Hmm …. that may have sounded a tiny bit cheesy and cliché but its how I honestly feel when listening to this album. All that being said you may have a different experience with this album. Some may interpret the album as a sad one, a lonely one, but I did not.

The songs found here are obviously love songs which is why I say this album can easily be seen in different lights. I suppose it depends where your love life is at the time, or maybe your outlook on your love life. I believe the album is meant to be seen as a happy album and thats how I obviously see it. I'm just not really sure how anyone could listen to the song “Aminals and not feel absolutely joyous and have an ear to ear smile. Then again … I have met some pretty horrible people this week.

I honestly don't understand how it is that I love this album yet cannot find more words to say about it. What it comes down to basically is, if you like electronic music of the chill variety then I highly recommend you check out Baths. I had a really hard time choosing which tracks to post but I think the ones I chose below really speak for the album. So check it out and see if it's for you!

Personal favorite tracks:Aminals, Lovely Bloodflow, Rain Smell

TL;DR: Baths is an awesome new chill electronic band, check em out

- Crackity Jones

Buzz McFlamethrower (aka my blog)



Album: Apollo Kids
Artist: Ghostface Killah
Label: Def Jam Records
Released: December 21, 2010
Genre: Rap/Hip Hop
Sounds like: Wu Tang, Mos Def

You know, I always wondered how one would be able to kill the face of a ghost. Why go through so much trouble? Isn’t it impossible to kill a ghost in the first place? Imagine the frustration one would have to go through to kill the face of ghost…oh, it’s derived from a ninja flick?

Well then, back to how amazing Apollo Kids is.

I’m a big Wu Tang fan, but I don’t keep up with the individual members as much as I should, so it came to my surprise when I saw that Ghostface Killah had released a new album this month. As always, I then proceeded to beat myself for not keeping up with the members of the Wu Tang Clan as much I as should, because Apollo Kids is a nice infusion of that hip hop that style that I love.

Apollo Kids presents an interesting return to a more traditional feel, mixing the use of singular samples and simple yet driving beats. Layer that with impressive rapping by not only Ghostface, but the wave of rappers he brought on for this album, including Busta Rhymes, Method Man, Redman, and even Game.

The most notable thing about Apollo Kids is how brutal the album can get. I don’t mean in a lyrical sense (although it does reach a level of “he totally mad” multiple times), but how blunt rhymes can be delivered. And it’s not just one or two artists who bring the best flow while the rest just sit there looking nice. From Ghostface to U-God to Redman, any time any artists has a line in any song, they proceed to make it their own. This is so prevalent in this album that you could see this as not an album by GhostFace but by the “GhostFace Posse” or something. It’s nice to see rappers actually pull their own weight when they’re asked to collaborate.

Also, you remember when I said that this album is brutal lyrically? Yeah, it features all of that East Coast “this is how I’m fucking living/rapping motherfucker” madness that’s prevalent in East Coast hip hop. It’s got everything, from rapping about how friends/enemies got caught by the cops/shot by enemies/friends (mix and match to fit your needs), to rapping about selling drugs, to how you can’t pick up a girl in the club because some asshole’s got her on a leash. None of those things have ever happened to me, but I feel like I completely understand the message, as if I’ve been a victim of the ghetto.

And that’s the whole point of this style of rap; to make you understand, to help you relate, and to entertain you while doing it. Ghostface provides an excellent example of how to do hip hop right. It’s a sad thing that this probably won’t see as much media coverage as the next Lil Wayne single or Will-O Smiths full album (when she gets around to writing it), because all of the new age rappers could really learn a couple of things from Apollo Kids.

Personal favorite tracks:

Superstar, Ghetto, and Handcuffin’ Them Hoes

TL;DR: If you liked listening to the rap on the radio on Grand Theft Auto IV, then you should but this.

-Daxelman



Album: Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys
Artist: My Chemical Romance
Label: Reprise Records
Released: November 22, 2010
Genre: Rock
Sub-genres Punk, A bit of Electronic
Sounds like: Straight up fun, if a little flawed at times.

Ahh...My Chemical Romance. The band that everyone that isn't fourteen loves to hate. I'm sure your enjoyment of them probably ranks right up there with sawing off a limb or the Twilight films. All pseudonyms aside, I bet you hate those guys with the white-hot intensity of a thousand sons, and would sooner kill yourself than believe for even a second that they're a good group, right?

Do me a favor...leave that opinion at the door. Because this album is good.

Now before you decide to go ahead and deny any credibility to anything I ever say about music again (And, honestly, I welcome you all to throw me under the bus if you so desire), let me go ahead and explain. My Chemical Romance, really, has never been a bad band at all. Their first album was great, not to mention a lot different from the stuff you would find at times. It was almost like a new-age Sunny Day Real Estate album at times (Man, I'm probably treading on sacred ground now. Sorry Stevil). But then a little thing called Myspace entered their lives and suddenly an army of 14 year old quasi-goth retards began to latch on to them, ironically just as their second album released where they were going for a more goofy, horror-punk type sound. It too was a good album, if just a little too cheesy at times, and is probably actually my least favorite of the bunch. And then came The Black Parade album which was a fairly interesting tale of a man on his death bed, and represented another shift in sound for the band, this time focusing more on a bombastic, rock opera treatment. It worked for them, despite them losing a lot of the fake fans in the process and making more than a few new enemies with the slightly dumb decision to look like Hot Topic-sponsored Nazis.

Which of course, brings us to the now. Once again they have changed their sound for a new album, and once again the results are great. This time, the concept is simple- the year is 2019. The Killjoys are a group of outlaws fighting against the evil corporation Better Living, Ind. What follows is a lot of driving, ray guns, and (spoiler alert) the wiping out of the Killjoys at the hands of the corporation. Picture Fallout or Mad Max, but less radiationy and more pew pew lasers. The concept works astoundingly well in the music videos, so well in fact that I'd be surprised if a DVD musical wasn't released depicting the entire story. It'd also make for one hell of a comic book...fitting, considering singer Gerard Way's critically acclaimed Umbrella Academy series.

But how does it work musically? The short answer is, very well. This is My Chemical Romance at their most fun, displaying a level of laid-back enjoyment that they've never had before. Gone is the whiney vocals, there's no mopey stuff to speak of. The lyrics range from a riotous fury of enjoyment, to defiantly spitting in the face of quite a few things. Of course, most of it ties into the story of the album, with an overarching theme of knowing that there's no survival, but going for it anyways. There's constant mentioning of “When the lights go out”, and lyrics such as “Who gives a damn if we lose this war”. One particular lyric strikes out as the most direct, taken from Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back, that goes “I'll tell you all how the story ends, how the good guys die and the bad guys win”. It's all a very direct image that really helps portray the situation being painted in the songs, which is helped in no small part by the tracks that break up the album by fictional Pirate Radio DJ Dr. Death Defying (Portrayed by Mindless Self Indulgence guitarist Steve, Righ?).

Most of the songs are straight up a blast to listen to as well, the kind of songs that you can't help but jump around to. Na Na Na Na may be the most singable song I've heard in recent times, and the raucous track Vampire Money is such a wonderfully old school song that I can't help but smile every time I hear it, and then smile even more when I remember what it's about (It's actually a fictional tale of what would happen if the band decided to sell out by offering a track to the Twilight films. Ironically, the band has been approached numerous times concerning that, and every time it's always been a solid fuck no. Yup, MCR hates Twilight as much as you do. Surprised?).

There are also a couple surprises available too, with some tracks that are truly a departure from the norm for them...which is saying much, considering no two MCR albums really have ever sounded the same. Songs like Destroya, for instance, sometimes make you question if you're even listening to an MCR album. Starting out with a tribal-esque drum beat, the song eventually turns into a rampaging fuck-you (in keeping with the story, the fuck-you is most likely directed at the evil corporation at the front of everyone's problems), with Gerard Way practically screaming every single word at you with every last ounce of sincerity he has, and a driving chorus of “You don't believe in God/I don't believe in luck/They don't believe in us/But I believe we're the enemy”. It could even be taken as an anger-filled retort to the various detractors of the band. I don't care what it's about, it's just a good song and definitely my favorite of the album; If you only listen to one song on this album, MAKE IT THIS ONE.

Of course, the album does stumble sometimes. Some of the songs put a ridiculous halt to the momentum, like Bulletproof Heart and The Only Hope For Me Is You. Luckily the album does pick back up immediately after the track, except for the two tracks before the grand finale of the album, a send-off from Dr. Death Defying, proclaiming “The lights are out and the party's over”, before he goes into hiding, leaving the listeners with an old, semi-distorted recording of The Star Spangled Banner.

Of course, despite those faults I still find it to be a great album, probably one of the best of the year even, if you can get over the fact that it's a My Chemical Romance album. Of course, haters gon' hate, but if you can swallow your pride you'll find one hell of a listen ahead of you.

Oh, and please, direct any and all bullshit/hatred/accusations of fail in the comments. I'm ready for ya.

Personal favorite tracks: Na Na Na Na , Destroya, Vampire Money, Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back

TL;DR: A great album from a great band, despite what the haters may say.

-vApathyv

Merry Christmas everyone! Kick out the jams and we'll see you all at New Years Eve!

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About Stereotoidone of us since 7:53 PM on 03.05.2010