Posted by: drijus | March 27, 2012

Most Influential Albums #1

Band: Rage Against the Machine

Album: The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)

**I think beginning a series of reviews of the most influential bands/albums in my life would be a great thing to do, and the only appropriate place to start would be here. This album is the first album I can remember actually connecting to.**

 

I was in 6th grade, and although I couldn’t connect to the hip-hop/rap vocals (Zack de la Rocha) about anti-government and propaganda as much as the music, that was all I needed. The completely unique guitar tones and solos that are woven over the driving bass and drums were enough. 

This is the album that I can confidently say made me want to play drums. Rage’s drummer (Brade Wilk) has a very simple yet completely unique sound. His style is simple yet complex, down-played yet in your face. He’ll play a simple 4/4 beat and then blast you with a huge fill or some very fine crash work. It was a great place to start learning drums because of the simplicity. I could pick up my sticks and play along not knowing how much I was actually learning. I think the one thing I took away the most is that accenting the vocals with your beat is an incredible tool to use. If there is a specific word, or a line that is heavily accented vocally (which is the case many times in a hip/hop driven genre) – accent it with your beat or with a cymbal crash and it will only enhance that specific part. (Of course this doesn’t apply all the time but is a great lesson learned.) 

Image

The Battle of Los Angeles

What can I say about Tom Morello’s guitar work that hasn’t been said? He has a VERY specific tone and sound that is unmistakable. Although some may say his having a solo in almost every song is too much, I think it is simply the way they write/wrote music. Each solo is almost like another song in itself. It has a melody and a character to it and cannot be mistaken for any other guitarist and I always found myself looking foward to the solos.  

The Battle of Los Angeles opens with the very open sounding “Testify”. This track is a phenomal display of how the band can ‘separate’, as I like to say, into 4 different parts in the verses, then pull it back together in the chorus for a completely rocking feel. Other tracks such as ‘Mic Check’ and ‘Born of a Broken Man’ are laced with a sonically haunting feel that carries throughout the tracks. Perhaps the two most stand-out tracks, but completely necessary as to keep the album from being 12 tracks of monotony. My two favorite tracks have to be the closing tracks however. ‘Ashes in the Fall’ is an anthemic track that has de la Rocha repeating “This is the new sound, just like the old sound. Just like the noose wound over the new ground.” The track eventually builds on a snare-heavy beat accented by a computer-esque sounding guitar that crescendos into the band all driving together on the same riff after de la Rocha belts out, “Ain’t it funny how the factory doors close? Round the time that the school doors close. Round the time that the doors of the jail cells open up to greet you… like the reaper.” An extremely memorable part on the album. 

The last track “War Within a Breath” opens with a low-fi quality that breaks into full quality upon the first verse. Perhaps with the most in-your-face lyrics, de la Rocha yells in the chorus, “War Within a Breath, It’s Land or Death.” A cry to fight for what is yours or have it taken from you.

I still love this album, and the fact that it has stood the test of time says a lot. It taught me an immeasurable amount about drums, music construction and the like. I’m not sure if I’d be playing drums today if it wasn’t for this album. If you’ve never listened to Rage Against the Machine or The Battle of Los Angeles I highly recommend it. I don’t think they’re for everyone, but who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired as I was so long ago.  

 

Standout Tracks: 

(1) Testify

(11) Ashes In the Fall

(12) War Within a Breath 

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Posted by: drijus | February 21, 2011

‘Lost In the Sound of Separation’ Review

Lost In the Sound of Separation

In a world full of generic music and generic lyrics with generic meanings, finding those artists thatbreak through the mold and reshape music is truly what matters. UnderOATH is a band that can truly say that they have done so. With inspirations such as Radiohead, Jimmy Eat World and Led Zeppelin, it’s clear that their harder genre that is considered ‘metal core’ is nothing but unique. The artwork for the album is superb to say the least. With a dark feel, it is greatly contrasted with bright yet un-saturated colors streaming out of volcanoes on some desolate planet.

The sextuplet’s third release with their current lineup, ‘Lost in the Sound of Separation’, is a beacon shining in a lonely and dark place. Released on September 2nd of 2008, Separation is a solid 11 track full-length produced by Adam D. and Matt Goldman. From the opening track, ‘Breathing in a New Mentality’, the listener is captured with an upbeat yet low quality drumbeat (Aaron Gillespie). Soon after lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain chimes in with the first lyrics of the album, “I’m the desperate and you’re the savior.” At first listen this whole beginning gives the impression that the band did not reach the expectations of their previous gold selling album entitled ‘Define the Great Line’. After a short pause and some static however, all instruments kick in full force blowing you back over your chair and through your wall. This is one of the cleverest openings to an album I have heard. Although they do praise God through their music, you will not hear any ‘Praise Jesus’’ in this album. Chamberlain’s past drug addiction is a huge part of their writing, as well as other dark places in our life we tend to not revisit. The lyrics are about trying to survive in a desperate place.

The next ten tracks take you through a wide variety of emotions, as they are not afraid to refrain from screaming in your face to get a little more intimate with tracks such as “The Created Void”, and “Desolate Earth :: The End is Here”. ‘The End is Here’ features digital instruments, strings and piano for a good three minutes before the rest come in. Chamberlain finally yells at the end from what sounds like a million miles away. He stood down the hallway from a mic and yells “You said there was nothing left down here. Well I roamed around the wasteland and I swear I found something. I found hope, I found God, I found the dreams of the unbelievers. Oh, God save us all…” We’re all lost in the sound of separation.

Posted by: drijus | February 13, 2011

Bloc Party: Intimacy Review

“It’s like British Indie-Rock, but with lots of Madonna and night-club influence. Huh?” Describing the third release of British Indie-Rocks’ Bloc Party can be a difficult task indeed, especially when someone doesn’t know about the band in the first place. Lead singer Kele Okereke is highly influenced by The Strokes to Cindy Lauper and everything in between.

Part of the reason they are a mystery is that they are constantly changing their music. The way they go about writing music is quite interesting. One member gets each album to have the most say in what goes in it and where.

Intimacy Album Cover

Their third album, Intimacy, (producer Paul Epworth) was taken under the wing of their drummer Matt Tong. Tong had the most control over it in the writing process. With that came lots of drums, electronic as well as acoustic drums with effects on them. It gives the album that nightclub feel, with deep bass and catchy melodies. The opening track “Ares”, as well as “Mercury” feature bigger drums that drive the song. The song “Zephyrus” is Tong-less, in a sense that the acoustic drums are taken out and replaced with digital. Okereke sings about everything from sex to a friend dying of cancer. “If I could eat your cancer I would,” Okereke sings soulfully in the album’s middle track ‘Biko’.

Old fans will not be disappointed as there are two tracks that have that old Indie-Rock feel that Bloc Party first came onto the scene with. Intimacy is an album for anyone looking for a unique twist on an old classic.

Posted by: drijus | February 13, 2011

Oracular Spectacular Review [short/old]

Oracular Spectacular

MGMT’s CD Oracular Spectacular (released from Sony Records) is truly an album not to be overlooked. Many bands now-days produce their albums to the point where it doesn’t sound real anymore. MGMT and Sony made a point to avoid this, and made sure not miss anything when recording MGMT’s new release. Inspired by the Flaming Lips and Of Montreal, they carry the same sound. The melodies are sung (Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser) in a way that puts a trance on the listener, very airy and open.Two words to define this album would be room noise. There are points in the songs where you can hear the slightest detail.

The song ‘Electric Feel’ features a part where only the drummer is playing and he’s playing straight quarter notes on the bass drum. You can hear the squeak of the bearings on the foot pedal he is using, and the batter of the head hitting the bass drum. The vocals at times are imperfect as well. If they were seeking that polished and fake sound, almost all of the vocals would be redone and have effects on them.

These small imperfections are something that sets MGMT off from the rest, and truly prove that less is more.

Posted by: drijus | April 6, 2010

We Have Been Waiting, and They Have Answered

With the Release of Idiot Pilot’s New Single They Again Prove Why It’s Worth the Wait.

“So you’ve waited long for this”, states the opening line of Idiot Pilot’s new single, The Tail of a Jet Black Swan. Indeed we have Idiot Pilot, although what I hear sounds more like The National’s Matt Berninger on vocals. Descending into low baritones, Michael Harris again proves why he is one of the best (and most underrated) vocalists of our time. Seamlessly ascending from baritone to that all familiar mid-to-high range, we know now that this has to be what we’ve been waiting for since their 2008 release, Wolves. It seems Harris has also continued taking notes from other vocalists including the sound of Thom Yorke of Radiohead as well as Chino Moreno’s melodies from the Deftones.

Michael Harris and Daniel Anderson of Idiot Pilot

Laced with the clicking and electronic beats of Harris and Daniel Anderson that have captured us since Strange We Should Meet Here, this song is everything Idiot Pilot has done right in the past rolled up neatly into a new single reminiscent of Retina In the Sky.

The duo from Washington have also included more of that raw sound from the first full-length. Although Wolves was a great collection of songs, it left something to be desired with it’s polished and produced sound. The new single lets a little more room-noise in and you can hear it – in the reverb, the guitars and even the drums. They all have a touch more rawness that mixes and only encourages their intertwining singing and screaming style that they’ve grown to be known for.

The Tail of a Jet Black Swan is what we’ve been waiting for from Idiot Pilot, and they have delivered full force. Now the only thing we’re left waiting for is another full length from these two.

Posted by: drijus | May 21, 2009

[Red] Music Tour

See Your Favorite Band Live and Save a Life. What’s Not to Love?

The next time you see your favorite band in concert you can also help save a life. Yes, you heard right. It is called [Red] Nights, and it is combining Project Red with a live musical tour. Twenty-six cities across the Nation will host the event, and it’s expected to bring in more money than any other Project Red event in history. Live Nation is helping Red with this event, but what exactly is Live Nation?

Rapino is the CEO of Live Nation.

Rapino is the CEO of Live Nation.

“Our core business is producing, marketing and selling live concerts for artists via our global concert pipe. Live Nation is the largest producer of live concerts in the world, annually producing over 22,000 concerts for 1,600 artists in 33 countries”, said a representative for Live Nation. Based out of Beverly Hills, California, Live Nation is a live concert promotion business headed by Michael Rapino. They own venues all over the world and are one of the biggest promoters in the world. Being one of the biggest promoters in the world, Live Nation also works with some of the largest musical acts in the world. Red and Live Nation together have gotten together 26 bands for [Red] Nights, and will use Live Nation’s venues across the Nation to host them.

The bands participating in the 26 night tour all put aside one night of their personal tour and turned it into a [Red] Nights concert. Proceeds from these special nights go towards Africa, and anti-retroviral treatments given out by Project Red and Global Fund. The bands that have signed onto the tour so far are: The Veronicas, Santigold, Katy Perry, O.A.R., Fall Out Boy and The All-American Rejects. The dates that have been announced are: The Veronicas on June 12th, Santigold on June 18th, Katy Perry on July 28th and O.A.R. on August 13th and 14th. The rest of the bands will be announcing their dates in the next month. Most of the bands have commented on the tour already showing great enthusiasm and support for what Red and Live Nation are doing.

“I believe no person deserves to suffer from a preventable, treatable disease simply because they can’t afford medicine. If bringing awareness to what (RED) is doing helps one person receive antiretroviral treatment and live a healthy life, we have accomplished our goal”, said Marc Roberge of O.A.R. In hopes of connecting the fans with bands even more there are websites that are being made, some which have additional information and contact information for fans interested in going to [Red] Nights.

Bono is a founder of Project Red, as well as the lead singer of the band U2.

[Red] Wire is a new magazine that is being launched by Project Red. An electronic magazine, as well as a deliverable to your house, Wire is something that is also being started by Project Red and is going to be combined with [Red] Nights. Wire has a roster of large world-wide acts that perform and raise money for Africa. Some of these large artists include: U2, Coldplay, The Killers, Jay-Z and TV On the Radio. These artists have agreed to help on the tour, by playing on some of the specific dates that are listed. The hopes are that when larger acts join a big bill with artists such as Fall Out Boy, the turnout of fans will be larger than usual. “(RED)NIGHTS and (RED)WIRE mark the first time (RED) has moved into the music arena and are a mutual extension of (RED)’s mission, whereby the music community is coming together as a vehicle to raise awareness and funds to help fight AIDS in Africa.” Artists such as Coldplay and U2 are world-wide sellout performers by themselves. There’s no doubt within Project Red, Live Nation or any other organization involved, that these concerts will sellout.

Beyond a fun night however, the aim of the [Red] Night tour is much higher. The plan for the future is to continue doing these Red concerts every year, and to raise more money each year. In order to do this, a fan-base must be built. Through years of continuing tours and concerts through Project Red and Live Nation, it will gain popularity and more people will attend as the years go on.

“(RED) was looking to engage more people in its mission, to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. The [Red] Night series is an innovative concept that combines the power of Live Nation’s live music platform and venues to use people’s passion for music to raise awareness and, ultimately, generate more money to help eliminate AIDS in Africa”, said Russell Wallach, President of North American Alliances. Wallach was promoted to President of North American Alliances last year and is trying to combine Red and North American Alliance efforts more frequently. “We’re building a great line up of artists for [Red] Nights, and believe we can help (RED) successfully deliver its message by connecting them with music fans all over the country,'” he said.

Posted by: drijus | February 20, 2009

Who is Project[red] Helping?

You may be asking yourself who this money is going towards…

The simple truth is that it’s going all over Africa, Rwanda especially. There are many causes that your well earned money are going to. Some examples include money for education, counseling, and medical attention.

Some of the money is spent on pills. Just two pills that can save someone’s life half-way across the planet.Rwanda has increased the people being treated for HIV/AIDS times ten in the last two years alone! It is unknown just how many lives have been saved, but judging by the money and time spent, it’s a lot!

Very recently an ambassador named Scarlett Johansson left for Rwanda to check in and see the progress. With $120,000 million dollars raised since the companies start in 2006, it’s very apparent that there are many people participating.  Johansson visited a clinic that treats pregnant mothers. It prevents the passage of HIV/AIDS to the children from the mother. This is a very new thing to anyone in Rwanda. The treatment was not readily available for this many people before the start of Project[red]. “Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission treatment allowed these toddlers to be born HIV-free; this newborn was saved by PMTCT, and although the mother is HIV-positive, the baby has tested negative for the disease.” Johansson encountered countless stories while there. One girl was treated with money from Project[red], and after being sick since she was born, could start going to school. This is something that is priceless. This is something that is saving people’s lives. Real people, with real names and faces. This is something that we can help take a part in.

Johansson’s Page:

http://www.joinred.com/News/Articles/ArticleDetail/09-02-19/Elle_Magazine_Features_Scarlett_in_Rwanda_with_RED.aspx

Rwandan Site:

http://ethiopundit.blogspot.com/2005/04/100-days-of-rwanda-project.html

Blog on Johansson:

http://jollypeople.com/blog/2008/09/17/scarlett-johansson-red/

Posted by: drijus | February 16, 2009

Hello world!

Hello World. My name is Justin. This is not only my first article in this blog, but my first blog ever as well. Don’t be too harsh with the feedback, I am still learning.

This will be the first of many blogs that I am writing through the Spring Season about a company most are familiar with. This company is called Project Red. The purpose I am writing this for is to inform everyone of the things that Red is doing not only in America, but the results that it’s getting in Africa. To begin this adventure, let me begin with a brief background of Project Red.

This incredible company was begun by u2’s lead man Bono, as well as a man named Bobby Shriver. Bobby Shriver is also a co-founder of DATA (debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa) that focuses on fair rights throughout Africa. It’s not stretch to say that either man has a lot of power in this world, and the ability to do great things. They begun the project in January in 2006. Coupled with Global Fund, they identified Rwanda as the first country to receive aid from Project Red.

American Express was the first company to begin working with Red. They offered credit cards that would send percentages of money to Rwanda based on the amount of the sales the card was used on. Over the past two years many popular companies have added on to Project Red since then. Examples are: GAP, Converse, Motorola, Apple, Dell and Starbucks. The products sold by these companies are distictive by the trademark color red that they are made out of. A certain amount of each sale from a Red product goes towards Rwanda and the efforts they are helping there. In future blogs I will be discussing these projects that Red is helping in further detail, and also the ways in which money is given to Africa.

Here are some general links, good for a first blog.

http://www.joinred.com/Home.aspx

http://www.theglobalfund.org

http://www.data.org

My blogs will get better as I write, until next time.

-Justin

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