Year 4, Day 17: Powerglove – Saturday Morning Apocalypse

Year 4, Day 17: Powerglove – Saturday Morning Apocalypse

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Track List

  1. X-Men
  2. Gotta Catch ’em All (Pokemon)
  3. The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest
  4. This is Halloween (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
  5. Batman
  6. Transformers
  7. Inspector Gadget
  8. Heffalumps and Woozles (Winnie the Pooh)
  9. The Simpsons
  10. The Flintstones
  11. Gotta Catch ’em All (feat. Tony Kakko)

About the Album

Saturday Morning Apocalypse is the second studio album from Boston metal/power metal band, Powerglove. The album was recording through 2009-2010 and released on September 28th 2010 through E1 Music. .

Thoughts on the Album

Happy Leap Day everyone! In honor of today being a Leap Day and the novelty about it, we will be reviewing and listening to Powerglove’s Saturday Morning Apocalypse. The 2010 album is completely instrumental… minus some vocal segments on the track The Simpsons and the final track, which features Finnish metal band, Sonata Arctica‘s Tony Kakko.

I can see why music experts would dismiss this album as novelty; it fills a certain demographic and doesn’t really appeal to everyone. But that still doesn’t give this album any justice at all. The album itself is 11 TV theme songs from various Saturday morning programs.

Powerglove isn’t alone in the genre of nerd metal or video game music, which is shared with other bands like Minibosses, MegadriverThe Black Mages, and The Megas just to name a few.

That said, the premise behind the album is awesomely gimmicky and absurd, but the musicianship is top notch. In what I can only describe as “bizarrely badass”, the track Heffalumps and Woozles will hold that title for a long time as it’s a cover of a Winnie the Pooh song. The album is full of cracked out, technically proficient, and very tongue-in-cheek speed metal. On the second track, the first Pokemon anime TV theme song, Gotta Catch ’em All, sees the band making Pokemon the most metal it’s ever been. The guitar work on the track is fantastic and displays a frightening amount technicality and skill, almost bordering on virtuoso territory.

The formula is simple really: take the original main themes and lead lines, add in some original work when fitting, and shred. Shred for hella days like they know they can. This formula is evidenced on The Adventures of Johnny Quest and This is Halloween, as Powerglove‘s original work found on the tracks are just as effective as the original melodies. By adding in orchestrated pieces, the band beefs up themes like Batman and The Simpsons.

The album closes out with the second track, Gotta Catch ’em All, except features Finnish heavy metal singer Tony Kakko on vocals.

Conclusion

Leap Day is a essentially a day draped in novelty as it only comes around once every four years (see you in 2020). So it deserves an album that’s a novelty. But novelty doesn’t do it any justice. It’s a bizarrely badass album that has excellent production and insanely high instrumental technicality. While not appealing to everyone, if you need some speed/power metal nostalgia, you couldn’t go wrong here.

Year 4, Day 16: The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Year 4, Day 16: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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Track List

  1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  2. With a Little Help from My Friends
  3. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
  4. Getting Better
  5. Fixing a Hole
  6. She’s Leaving Home
  7. Bring for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
  8. Within You Without You
  9. When I’m Sixty-Four
  10. Lovely Rita
  11. Good Morning Good Morning
  12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
  13. A Day in the Life

About the Album

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album from English rockers, the Beatles. The album was recorded from late November 1966 to mid-April 1967 and released on June 1st 1967 through Parlophone Records and Capitol Records. The album peaked at number one on numerous charts around the world, including the Billboard Top LPs and UK Albums Chart. It finished 1967 at 10th on the Billboard 200 and at the end 1968 it finished at 6th. The album is certified 11x Platinum by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). The album, as of 2014, has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.

Thoughts on the Album

There is generally one of two schools of thoughts regarding the Beatles. Either you like them and they are considered pioneers of rock and roll in the mainstream; or they are vastly overrated. I like them, but for me, some of their songs I just can’t get into. But I digress, we’ve talked enough about philosophy.

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He’s got a point.

Today’s album is the eighth album from the BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. And where to begin to go about talking about this masterpiece of rock music? I’m sure at point in your life you have heard at least one song off this album. There’s the opener, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club BandWith a Little Help from My FriendsLucy in the Sky with DiamondsGetting Better, When I’m Sixty Four… just to name a few.

This album is a timeless classic that continues to withstand the test of time. Most people nowadays consider an album a “classic” after ten years. Yeah okay. But then again, I’m not going judge the age of the album to be considered “classic”. That said, Sgt. Pepper’s has been around for 49 years. It’ll be 50 years old next year. The album is still considered to be a pinnacle of rock music as it is also considered (one of ,if not) the most influential and commercially successful albums ever.

The genius of this album is the diversity. At no point when listening to this album does the diversity of the music sound forced. You can witness this through the track When I’m Sixty-Four as it’s almost like an extension of Within You Without You, but almost provides a gateway for the chiming guitar riffs of Lovely Rita. The track With a Little Help from My Friends is the prototypical Ringo Starr track as it’s a rolling, radio-friendly pop hit. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds remains to this day to be a keystone of British Psychedelia.

The opening and titular track, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band might just be the best opening track ever. The track almost immediately breaks the fourth wall, as they exclaim they are band about to begin a performance for the audience. The track has dueling brass and guitar riffs as Paul McCartney belts out a killer vocal performance. The track seamlessly segues into With a Little Help from My Friends, a  jaunty track that bounces about innocently (unless you read deeply into the lyrics).

Then we get to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Fun side note, look carefully at the capitalized letters of name of this track. LSD. Yup. The track itself, I guess could be considered the godfather (and grandfather (?)) of the genre psychedelic rock. It’s an ethereal tune, noted by the mellotron in the intro of the song and the spaced-out lyrics. Transitioning into Getting Better, a track that is ingenious and simplistic. Given the time period, guitar styles and pulsating rhythms were still relative new… but they captured your ear and dragged you in. The vocal harmonies on this track are astonishing. But one of things about the Beatles were their ability to take something incredibly simple (idea or chord progression) and turn around and deliver it in a matter that would be considered either impossible or next to impossible.

Conclusion

Let’s be honest here, this album was an instant classic once it was released. Almost 50 years later, it’s now a timeless classic. There are certain albums that when released are automatically considered to be “classic”… an example of this is Nirvana’s NevermindSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the album that broke all the rules regarding creating albums. Now bands had the freedom, for better or worse, to create just about any concept or idea. Ironically speaking, few have ever tried to recreate what the Beatles did on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album is a sweeping and all-encompassing embrace of music.

While one can and will argue that there better Beatles albums (again… not a time to be discussing philosophy), one can not deny the impact this album had on both music and pop-culture.

Year 4, Day 15: Pink Floyd – The Wall

Year 4, Day 15: Pink Floyd – The Wall

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Track List

  1. In The Flesh?
  2. The Thin Ice
  3. Another Brick in the Wall (Part I)
  4. The Happiest Days of Our Lives
  5. Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)
  6. Mother
  7. Goodbye Blue Sky
  8. Empty Spaces
  9. Young Lust
  10. One of My Turns
  11. Don’t Leave Me Now
  12. Another Brick in the Wall (Part III)
  13. Goodbye Cruel World
  14. Hey You
  15. Is There Anybody Out There?
  16. Nobody Home
  17. Vera
  18. Bring the Boys Back Home
  19. Comfortably Numb
  20. The Show Must Go On
  21. In the Flesh
  22. Run Like Hell
  23. Waiting for the Worms
  24. Stop
  25. The Trial
  26. Outside the Wall

About the Album

The Wall is the eleventh studio album by English progressive rock band, Pink Floyd. The album was recorded from December 1978 through November 1979 and released on November 30th 1979 through Harvest Records (EMI Records) and Columbia Records. The album is a concept album. The album was massive success, certified 23x Platinum in the United States alone, making it one of the highest certified albums in the United States ever… of all time. The Wall has sold well over 13 million copies in the United States of America to date.

Thoughts on the Album

As I’ve posted about beforePink Floyd is an acquired taste.While they made some incredible and an unbelievable music, they have made some incredibly weird and strange music. And as I’ve stated before about another Pink Floyd album, today’s album by Pink Floyd has held up so incredibly well, it’s still selling. Today’s album is none other than The Wall.

The Wall is a concept album. For those that don’t know what a concept album is, a concept album is a studio album where all of the musical or lyrical content tells a unified story. The Wall tells the story of a protagonist (named Pink) who is modeled after Syd Barrett and Roger Waters. The album is an incredible 81 minute journey that you should only listen to, in order to believe it. At both a critical and commercial level, the album was massive success.

Some Highlights of the Concept

The Wall tells the story of a rock star named Pink and his downward spiral into madness which is caused by all the things in that have happened to him in life. Another Brick in the Wall (Part I) is about the death of Pink’s father who died in a war when he was young child. This begins Pink’s metaphorical wall building from a young age.

Daddy’s flown across the ocean, leaving just a memory

Another Brick in the Wall (Part I) leads into Happiest Days of Our Lives which tells the tale of Pink’s abuse by his school teachers. The track has a low semi-disco like rhythm before it launches into one of the most famous Pink Floyd tracks ever. It leads right into the anthemic Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) is arguably the most famous song from the band ever. Featuring one of most memorable anthemic choruses ever:

Hey, teacher! Leave those kids alone!

The track also features school choir singing during the song as well. David Gilmour’s disco-esque guitar riff is amazing. The track was a massive radio hit and according to my dad, the track received the same if not more airplay than Adele or Taylor Swift or some other big artists do today.

The production of the album is incredible… from the prodigious stereophonic mix of the tracks to the treasure trove of sound effects and voices used throughout the album. But it’s the final tracks of the album that are both the darkest and the grandest of the album. Comfortably Numb is a soaring and epic track that has both powerful vocals and guitars.

The child is grown, the dream is gone

David Gilmour constructed one of the best guitar solos ever on this track that combines passion and technicality perfectly. The track also contains a second guitar solo that is essentially a screaming ball of emotion that never loses it’s effect… even after repeated listens.

The Trial, the penultimate track, is where Roger Waters sings his most manically. The track is about the trial that is going on between the different characters in his head. Waters’ voice changes to correspond to the different characters speaking. The first two-thirds of the track is highlighted by orchestra backing the moving the track. For the final third of the song, Gilmour’s guitar comes crashing in like a thunderous wave and mighty thunderous vocals as well which represent a judge. The track ends as the wall collapses.

The album ends quietly with Outside the Wall.

Conclusion

I could keep talking The Wall, but then I’d be here all day. It’s a prodigious and extraordinary album that should only be listened to, in order to get the full experience. There are some albums you need to listen to, this is one of them. It’s an experience.

Year 4, Day 14: Biffy Clyro – Puzzle

Year 4, Day 14: Biffy Clyro – Puzzle

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Track List

  1. Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies
  2. Saturday Superhouse
  3. Who’s Got a Match?
  4. As Dust Dances (contains track 2/15ths)
  5. A Whole Child Ago
  6. The Conversation Is…
  7. Now I’m Everyone
  8. Semi-Mental (contains track 4/15ths)
  9. Love Has a Diameter
  10. Get Fucked Stud
  11. Folding Stars
  12. 9/15ths
  13. Machines

About the Album

Puzzle is the fourth studio album from Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro. The album was released on June 4 2007 through 14th Floor Records, a subsidiary of Warner Music UK. The album peaked at number two on the UK Albums Charts, peaked at number seventeen on the Irish charts, and peaked at number 39 on the overall world charts. The album is certified platinum in the United Kingdom, selling over 300,000 copies.

Thoughts on the Album

If you haven’t been able to tell, I really like alternative rock and hard rock mixed with some punk, metal, and lighter/softer pop. Today’s album is just more of the same… it’s Scottish rockers, Biffy Clyro and their fourth studio album, Puzzle. Having reviewed Only Revolutions four years ago, and it was a great album. Puzzle, the predecessor to Only Revolutions is the album that gave the band widespread critical acclaim worldwide.

If you have listened to Biffy’s previous release Infinity Land, you can tell a noticeable difference in song structure. The song structure of tracks on this album is more straightforward and streamlined. Another noticeable difference is the lack of time signature changes, which dominates their previous work.

The album opens with a colossal opener, Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies. It’s a massive/colossal opener that lurches forth from an epic arranged orchestrated piece, to operatic layered vocals, to dive-bombing head first into adrenaline fueled rock. A five minute, 18 second masterpiece that doesn’t let up until the song countdown equals 0:00 left. Even towards the end of the song at the 4:10 mark it returns to that epic arranged orchestrated piece.

The follow up track, Saturday Superhouse is a more streamlined, but hard rocker. It’s an incredibly melodic track. It’s a track out of the veins of Nirvana and Sunny Day Real Estate style of rock with a fabulous chorus.

This album is the definition of alternative rock. The very definition of it. Unquestionably even. This is qualified by the track Now I’m Everyone with the weird time signatures; majority of the album is remarkably radio friendly. The album’s standout track is Folding Stars. The track is a heartfelt tribute to frontman Simon Neil’s late mother. It’s an emotionally overpowering track.

Conclusion

Generally there is a mantra in music, “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Well, Biffy Clyro doesn’t fix anything really, they just build, mold, and evolve their sound on Puzzle. It’s an excellent weird, bizarre, strange, and outright awesome album.The album was a massive commercial success, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Try it out today.

Year 4, Day 13: BOY – We Were Here

Year 4, Day 13: BOY – We Were Here 

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Track List

  1. We Were Here
  2. Fear
  3. Hit My Heart
  4. Hotel
  5. No Sleep For the Dreamer
  6. Flames
  7. New York
  8. Rivers or Oceans
  9. Into the Wild

About the Album

We Were Here is the second studio album from German-Swiss pop/rock duo, BOY. The album was released on September 15th 2015 through Nettwerk Records in North America and Grönland Records in Europe.

Thoughts on the Album

One of things you will notice about the music I listen to or the music on any playlist I make, is the wicked contrast. I love contrast in the music I listen to. What I mean by “contrast” is: the first song that plays on a playlist could be loud, hard-hitting, and full of righteous rage and the song that follows it up could be slower, softer, and less angry. Essentially, it’s like going from Bad Religion to BOY.

That is why today’s artist, BOY is one of my favorite artists. Fun fact, there (technically) are no boys in BOY only Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass. This German-Swiss pop duo provides some of the contrast on my playlists. As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for a good female vocalist and Valeska Steiner’s voice gives me chills. She can hit wide range of octaves and her voice is soft yet loud and carrying. Steiner’s voice really is a plus on today’s album.

So with all that said, today’s album is BOY‘s second studio album, We Were Here. The album isn’t quite as effervescent as their debut album, Mutual Friends but that’s alright. It’s an album that pushes the duo’s sound into the more mainstream electronic rock territory. I view this album as a transitional one for future albums, except this album is actually great for a transitional album. The album signals a promising future for future albums from the duo.

I love everything about this album right down to it’s cover photo. The album cover fits with the lyrics and overall sound of the album. This found especially with the first half of the album as the tracks are slightly gritty, urban, modern, and busy. The titular opener, We Were Here, reflects on the journey that the duo has been through in the four years since Mutual Friends

Everything’s on the move; the paint is wet, all colors are new
But if you look carefully, you’ll see us shining through

Cause everywhere we’ve been, we have been leaving traces
They won’t ever disappear

Fear, the second track follows up on We Were Here perfectly with a well paced, up-tempo electronic rocker. Fear follows in the same vein as We Were Here does, but builds on it. Hit My Heart is track that has an uplifting spirit about it and highlights Steiner’s crafty yet polished songwriting.

Conclusion

You can go ahead an poke fun at me for liking a softer sounding band like BOYWe Were Here is an excellent sophomore album and perfect follow up to their debut Mutual FriendsWe Were Here is an ambitious and charming album that finds it impossible and unnecessary to follow in it’s predecessor’s path. Need some contrast in your music? Give this album a shot.

Year 4, Day 12: Bad Religion – Suffer

Year 4, Day 12: Bad Religion – Suffer

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Track List

  1. You Are (The Government)
  2. 1000 More Fools
  3. How Much Is Enough?
  4. When?
  5. Give You Nothing
  6. Land of Competition
  7. Forbidden Beast
  8. Best for You
  9. Suffer
  10. Delirium of Disorder
  11. Part II (The Numbers Game)
  12. What Can You Do?
  13. Do What You Want
  14. Part IV (The Index Fossil)
  15. Pessimistic Lines

About the Album

Suffer is the third studio album from American punk band, Bad Religion. The album was recorded in April of 1988 and released on September 8th 1988 through Epitaph Records. The records is considered widely by most to be one of the most important and quintessential punk albums of all time.

Thoughts on the Album

Many believe and think that punk died along with hardcore back in the early to mid 1980s. Many a music historian and internet commentor alike argue and debate about this every topic. But punk is constantly evolving, much like the every democracy that our government started as. Nothing stays the same forever. So, blink and you’ll miss it. That’s how fast this album is. Only four songs on today’s album are over two minutes in length… and three of them are barely over two minutes. That said, today’s album is one of the most influential punk albums ever… of all time: it’s Bad Religion‘s 1988 release, Suffer.

One of the main reasons people (mainly conservatives) have issues with the messages that punk music sends, is because they believe that the message is being made by an uneducated individual. Also because most of the time the message is liberal in political leaning. As well as most of the punk following (audience) seems be made of of crass, brash, and often drunk individuals. But what Suffer does is takes that laughable excuse of following, flips it on it’s head, and turns it into an album that carries a distinguished concept with such dexterity and unrelenting velocity and fury. My first time listening to this album as a teenager, the music hit me so fast that I was playing catch up right from the get go. The music on this album demands it’s listener to understand the message it carries. It also demands that listeners consider the thematic displays of pent-up rage.

This album has some serious velocity to it, clocking in at roughly 26 minutes (25:41) in length. It took me a few times of listening all the way through to figure out everything. Every song, every riff, chord, groove sounds eerily and almost dead similar to the next track on the album. I did that for one of the my favorite tunes off the record, the lead off track, You Are (The Government). The track clocks in at a wickedly fast 73 seconds.

This album is essentially the blueprint for west coast skate-punk. Every track  on this album is loud, angry, straight-ahead, and catchy as all hell. One of the most surprising things about the album, is that the subject matter of most of the tracks seems almost just as if not more pertinent today than it was in 1988. You hear this in the tracks in songs like You Are (The Government), 1000 More Fools, What Can You Do?

One of the amazing things about this album is that the lyrics are incredibly written… like they were just strangled from a thesaurus. Most bands have problems when it comes to this style of lyrics. Most come off as pretentious or arrogant; but Bad Religion pulls off perfectly. Check it out for yourself on the track You Are (The Government):

Hey sit down and listen and they’ll tell you when you’re wrong.
Eradicate but vindicate as “progress” creeps along.
Puritan work ethic maintains its subconscious edge
As Old Glory maintains your consciousness.
There’s a loser in the house, and a puppet on the stool,
And a crowded way of life, and a black reflecting pool,
And as the people bend, the moral fabric dies,
The country can’t pretend to ignore its people’s cries.
You are the government.
You are jurisprudence.
You are the volition.
You are jurisdiction.
And I make a difference too.

If none of this makes any sense to you, well you will just have to buy the album to understand. It’s an unbeatable hardcore punk singer combined with one of the most melodic, riff-ridden hardcore bands. That is the only way I can describe frontman Greg Graffin’s voice. While most punk music is repetitive. nowhere on this album does it get repetitive or cheesy or annoying. Greg Graffin has some important stuff to say and that it should be thought about and never forgotten. If you are an English major, I dare you to put your skills as a student of English to the test and listen to 1000 More Fools.

The masses are obsequious

contented in their sleep

the vortex of their minds ensconced within

the murky deep.

And that’s just an excerpt.

Conclusion

It’s very rare that I write 1000+ words about my favorite albums. I’m generally a big believer in economy and efficiency. But not with this album. Nope. I felt obligated to explain myself even more than usually for selecting this album. I mean even the conclusion is long. But that said…

So, if you really aren’t a fan of punk music you have to be asking: “Hey Brian, how is this album one of the most significant albums in punk?” It’s the most important punk album because it brought about the revival of punk music in the 1980s and 1990s and forced the genre of punk to evolve in a sensible way.

Every song on this album is necessary. What I mean by that is, each track not only compliments one another, but each track flows into the next on perfectly and meshes like a world caliber championship team. It’s fast-paced, distorted, in-your-face, and all high point. This album was perfect back in 1988 and is still perfect almost 30 years later. It is a classic punk album that every fan of the genre (and rock in general) should listen to. It’s a genre defining album. A classic. But fair warning, it’s not for the faint of heart..

Year 4, Day 11: Midtown – Save the World, Lose the Girl

Year 4. Day 11: Midtown – Save the World, Lose the Girl

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Track List

  1. Just Rock and Roll
  2. Direction
  3. Recluse
  4. Another Boy
  5. Let Go
  6. No Place Feels Like Home
  7. Such a Person
  8. We Bring Us Down
  9. Knew it All Along
  10. Come On
  11. Resting Sound
  12. Frayed Ends

About the Album

Save the World, Lose the Girl is the debut album from New Jersey pop/punk band, Midtown. The album was released on March 9th 2000 through Drive-Thru Records.

Thoughts on the Album

Let be said, that despite my contempt for most things New Jersey… the do produce some damn good music (and athletes, looking at you Mike Trout and Bobby Ryan*) Midtown, a band from New Brunswick New Jersey, is one of most quintessential pop-punk bands of the 2000s. They pioneered the genre of pop-punk with bands like New Found Glory, Over It, Sum 41, and Simple Plan along with labels like Drive-Thru Records.

Today’s album is the debut album from MidtownSave the World, Lose the Girl. I had to break out the CDs from my high school days. Punk-Pop or Pop-Punk was a regular mainstay on my MP3 players back then. One of the things I love about the album is the shared vocals. I’ve always found shared lead vocals created some pretty creative and deft harmonies. What’s even more amazing about this album is that it still sounds just as fresh and great as it did 16 years ago.

That’s why this album feels like it is one of those genre defining albums. The three-way vocal harmonies are awesome, but it’s the way that they are delivered on tracks like Just Rock and Roll and Recluse that is spot on. The delivery is one of pissed off rage. But it’s delivered with such emotion and conviction that it’s believably pissed off rage.

One of the many problems with the punk genre is a song structure of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus. Midtown on this album counters that structure with a varied assortment of rhythms… which in turn makes way for original material. This makes tracks like Direction and Such a Person a more progressive representation of a punk song, as the song changes directions at every turn.

Conclusion

While too catchy and radio-friendly to be called full fledged punk. Save the World, Lose the Girl is almost perfect pop-punk. This album should be required listening for anyone even thinking about making a pop-punk album. 12 brilliant songs, poppy yet lyrical sharp and biting. Pop-punk perfection.

(*Excuse me. That's Cherry Hill New Jersey Native Bobby Ryan from Cherry Hill New Jersey)