Wednesday, 13 February 2013

My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark

In case you've been living under an anti-pop-punk rock for the past few weeks, allow me to inform you - Fall Out Boy have returned from a 4 year hiatus.
For fans such as myself, it was a day we won't forget, mainly because the Tumblr universe has spent those 4 years pining for the angelic vocals of Patrick Stump, and their new release, My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light 'Em Up) indulged every fangirl with a brand new eargasm.
However, the song has brought no end of outrage from said fangirls, claiming they've 'sold out' and changed beyond all recognition. Forgive me for the bluntness, but isn't that the point of music - to develop? Even the most die-hard fans would soon tire of the same-old routine, which many bands have fallen foul of before. 
It's also reignited the debate that their previous album, Folie A Deux, was out of character and completely non-FOB. For me, Folie was their greatest album. The concept of an album that impressively evades the 'love song' rut they'd placed themselves in with their career really inspired me. My favourite FOB song, (Coffee's For Closers), called Folie its home. The timeless classic of What A Catch, Donnie signalled Fall Out Boy's progression into the band they ultimately became, refusing to neglect their past hits echoing through the close of the track. Massive hits like America's Sweethearts and I Don't Care gave the same empowering vibes 
My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark brings back an echo of Jay Z's role in Thriller from the album Infinity On High, this time morphing the hip-hop of 2 Chainz with the immortal Fall Out Boy pop-punk trademark. It's plain to see this is what Patrick Stump does best, when you consider his solo career during the FOB hiatus.
The track showcases Fall Out Boy's lyrical genius we all know and love, for example:

A constellation of tears on your lashes,
Burn everything you love, then burn the ashes.
In the end everything collides,
My childhood spat back out the monster that you see.

Pete Wentz's songwriting never fails to impress me, and Patrick Stump's genius manipulation of notes and emphasis send listeners on a rollercoaster of aural emotions. Believe me, you'll be finding a way to input 'I'M ON FIYAAAAH' into conversation after hearing this. This is definitely one to crank up before you go out for the night.
As for the accompanying video? Well the jury's still out on that one. We see 2 Chainz ceremoniously setting fire to Fall Out Boy records, presumably symbolic of Fall Out Boy setting alight to their old material to ignite the flame of a new era. It actually hurts seeing Take This To Your Grave curling under the heat, but it's all in the name of FOB's rebirth. And yet all we see of our four main men is... well, nothing. Four figures tied up in the back of a van with bags on their heads, that's about it, but maybe the song was enough for us, if we'd seen them back together on the video, our wee fangirl and fanboy minds would explode.

I missed out on tickets to their London gig at the end of the month, but I'm not going to wail about it, I'm just keeping my fingers firmly crossed that they'll stay together long enough for me to see them live for the first time in a decade-long love affair.
Fans are disheartened by the release and dreading what they'll be faced with when the album Save Rock and Roll releases on May 6th. Mirroring the backlash after My Chemical Romance released Danger Days, Fall Out Boy appear to have matured and changed their output, but by no means altered their goals to make the music we all love. 
My suggestion is this - just enjoy it. They're back, and nobody knows how long for. One song has no bearing over an entire album. Fall Out Boy are renowned for covering the entire spectrum of emotions within an album, and this is likely one of many extravagant themes featuring on the album.
I'm excited, aren't you?

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Monday, 11 February 2013

January Metal Hammer Calendar Challenge - Mastodon

 Hello and welcome to my 2013 Metal Hammer Calendar Challenge! Every month this year I'll be setting myself a challenge to listen to as many tracks by the band featured on Metal Hammer's 2013 calendar as possible in the month they're featured. January is the month of Mastodon, a band I've heard of but never actually got around to listening to before, so this could be an interesting adventure.

As Wikipedia reliably informs me, Mastodon are an American metal band formed in 2000, so in theory their grunge influences should be pretty strong. 
What caught my attention about this band is that their vocalist Troy Sanders is also the bassist. The bass player very rarely gets the attention he deserves, I can only imagine playing bass is difficult to juggle alongside singing, working on completely different levels. Not that I can make an informed judgement, I play no instruments and cannot sing. Really, I shouldn't be passing comment at all, but that's the beauty of the music industry, people who can't sing or play still have the freedom to criticise those who can.

What are my expectations for Mastodon?
Well I've heard their names in conjunction with Anthrax and Megadeth, so I guess I'm expecting something similar. By the calendar illustration, I'm expecting busy tracks full to the brim with... death. And all-seeing eyes. And a diamond.

I thought I'd kick off Mastodon January with the album Leviathan, purely because the name screamed out to me. I would've started chronologically but I felt that wouldn't give me a true idea of the band as a whole but more of their progression as artists.

While you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, just look at the Leviathan album cover, isn't that amazing? With the whole Pirates of the Caribbean-esque vibe, I'm expecting a lot of epic instrumental tracks worthy of a soundtrack, and also entitled Leviathan, I'm expecting, well... leviathan-esque tracks. So without further ado, here are my first impressions of each track, a running commentary as I listened to them for the first time, so if it's jumpy, then that's because the song's atmosphere has jumped unexpectedly.

Blood And Thunder
The opening sounds oddly like The Darkness, but then the drums kick in and it's definitely no longer The Darkness. I'd liken the singer's voice to a bit deeper Corey Taylor a la Slipknot. The guitars definitely sound familiar, the chord changes are ridiculously smooth. Anyone who can master an electric like this instantly wins my heart, I'm already loving this band.
Quick reference to the awesome album cover too, according to Wiki this fits in with their quadrilogy of elements albums, and I can already feel the sounds of Blood And Thunder pulsing like the crest of a wave on a rough sea. Oh what an end to the song, I love endings that keep you guessing, so you never quite know when it's going to cut.

Strange laid back intro, but I guess it goes with the water theme, the guitars sound quite wavy to me, but I could be making that up. Vocals are a lot different on this one from the first, seem to be drowned out by the drummer. I was warned Mastodon sounded like Biffy Clyro, judging from this track, they weren't far wrong. A quick change in the vocals to a bit of light growling? I really don't know what to make of this one. It seems like two styles mashed together. More like a dialogue between two guitars for the majority, not so bad if you've heard the song a few times over, but on first listen it does sound strange.

Aqua Dementia
What a note to open a song on, but it all feels a little rushed from here on in, there's not much structure, a bit like the guitar equivalent of button bashing in Tekken. The first verse was a little rushed too, definitely didn't catch a single lyric while listening the first time round. Bit of Machine Head-esque guitarplay at 1:46. The first lyrics were churned out faster than I could cope with but the rest were accompanied by just the right amount of emotion to justify them, for example 'and we cleanse the earth to bring it down'. Well that ended quickly. Crashing waves denote the end of Aqua Dementia without a single chorus in sight.

I Am Ahab
Ooh I like this intro, a lot more structured than their other intros, I can actually predict where this song is going to go! I'm liking the 30 Seconds To Mars vibe at 2:00, but that's soon dispelled by the half-hearted growling. If you're gonna growl about something, make it something meaningful, just like Machine Head. Give it structure, explain it, repeat it so we've got the message. I'm not a fan of 15-line lyrics and short songs. I want to leave a gig feeling breathless, inspired and emotional, not rushed. Mastodon's songs so far just end too quickly for me.

Iron Tusk
Well you've got one impressive drummer in this band, I'll say that. And the guitarist doesn't seem to have a break either. He hits some beautiful notes and there are some notes that I just fall head over heels for, he hits them. I like that, seeing a band working their socks off for their music. I'm actually really liking this song, it feels so much more organised and I'm feeling a little Trivium in there too. Yeah, this is definitely my favourite song so far.

1:18 goes by until I'm really intrigued, the guitarplay here is intricate. Looks like they listened to me too, they've repeated a verse this time round! Although I had to rely on a lyric website to clarify that, my ears definitely didn't pick up on it. Seriously, I just feel this band just don't structure their songs, in between verses they're just smashing every note they can just because. For that, I'm not impressed.

Joseph Merrick
This starts off slow and acoustic, this is promising. A welcome change from the headache they've given me so far. If they can keep this up throughout the song, I'll be happy. It's a nice atmosphere, chilled out, like a desert island. I'd imagine this playing in the background on Cast Away. Nice synthesised atmosphere wading in halfway through, much like the waves crashing against a beach. No lyrics too? Well after the previous songs, I'm appreciative of an instrumental, especially now I can hear this one has a clear structure and a path to follow.

Starts off slower, more organisation in the guitar already, I'm impressed. Sometimes it's good to play the same notes in a loop, yeah? Oh he's opened his gob again. From 1:20 to 1:25 is some amazing electric work. I'm convinced he's saying 'sexy' every once in a while. Could it be? Does it fit with the atmosphere of the song? Not in the slightest. But I'm loving the guitar after the lyrics end, their lead guitarist is really going for it, I guess that's what you get when your singer is actually the bassist. Some bands can fall victim to a lack of true masterpieces because the singer is also the lead guitarist, not that they're bad bands, but this proves that they have so much potential when they're not multitasking.

Naked Burn
A nice opening, repeating notes is good boys, remember that one. Wow. He's singing and not growling! Although he does still sound like he's elongating notes that wouldn't naturally be that long just to make it fit, and it really shows. But I'm liking the atmosphere of the song, the guitars between the singing are playful and almost comparable to Billy Talent. Ohhh yesssss, a great bass line, at last! Yeah I've warmed to this one quickly purely because he sings and there's so much more organisation. The odd screaming interlude is welcome actually, not intrusive. I'm actually quite sad that one was over so fast, the drumming at the close was fantastic!

So now for the questions:

Would I go to see Mastodon live?
I don't think so, purely on the basis I liked two songs out of an entire album. Plus their tracks just really really lack structure to make a decent set out of, you'd never know where one ends and another begins. Sorry Mastodon!

Favourite song?
Cross between Naked Burn and Joseph Merrick. Acoustic versus actually singing. I'm torn!

Would I listen to another album?
Sure, if someone was to recommend me another of their albums I'd instantly give it a go now I know what to expect. Perhaps I didn't pick the best album, but that was the main point of this exercise, to get a realistic picture of the band for every month, not to just pick their most successful songs from every one of their albums.

So all in all, I think the lessons I've learnt are:
1. Not everyone uses choruses.
2. Not everyone has more than 15 lines of lyrics.
3. Not everyone's songs make sense.
4. Not everyone's tracks have structure.
5. Yes, songs do end quite unexpectedly.

So next month is the turn of Miss May I. I've heard one of their covers on the Punk Goes Pop albums before but have yet to try them out properly, so fingers crossed for February!

Do you like Mastodon? Do you have any recommendations for Miss May I in February?

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My Top 10 Music Videos

Music videos have changed my life, that's a fact. But it takes a lot for a video to make me stand back and rethink life. Eminem's Like Toy Soldiers made me weep as a teenager, and The Darkness' Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) made every single Christmas perfect, but what videos changed me?

1. 30 Seconds To Mars - From Yesterday
This will always be my No. 1 favourite video of ALL TIEM. I'm sure you've guessed why already. It's set in China, filmed in the Forbidden City in Beijing, and it's set around the time of Emperor Puyi, who I'm about to write a 5000 word essay on. Every aspect of this video is perfection - the costumes, the setting, the culture clashes, the flawless direction, everything.

2. My Chemical Romance - Welcome To The Black Parade
As an all-time fan of the Black Parade album, this shouldn't be a surprise entry. The idea of the Patient moving on to the world where the Black Parade come to collect the lost souls still astounds me. This song stole my heart as a teenager and I don't even want it back, it's in a better place with MCR.

3. The Used - I Caught Fire
The video that defined my teenage years, I Caught Fire brought me into a world where The Used existed, and it's a much better world than before. This song in itself gave me so much confidence as a teenager, and instantly raised my standards impossibly high for future relationships. The video showed me that Bert McCracken was my future husband, at whatever cost, I was going to marry him.
I'm still waiting for him.

4. Fall Out Boy - What A Catch, Donnie
First off, who's excited they're back together? I AM! I missed out on tickets for the London gig but in all honesty, I'm just glad they're back making the music I've loved since I was 11.
This video would be me if I had enough money for a boat. Just drifting between places, living with a seagull. Life couldn't get much better than that. This song morphs together all the greatest songs from their back catalogue and in turn creates possibly the greatest song they've ever made. What's great about Fall Out Boy is their immortality, this song brought other singers like Brendon Urie from Panic At The Disco and the great Elvis Costello to sing the top lines from songs such as Dance Dance. It's perfection.

5. Foxy Shazam - Unstoppable
Don't let the thumbnail put you off, it's only Eric Nally's backside. What a backside, I might add.
Along with the song, this video glues a smile on my face for the entire day. I'm so grateful I saw them perform this song live, because it's one of those songs I'll remember for years to come and it'll never, ever get boring.
The video defines Foxy Shazam as a band - breaking the mould. It speaks for itself. It's fantastic.

6. Queen - These Are The Days Of Our Lives
You might be wondering why I picked this over classics such as Bohemian Rhapsody and I Want To Break Free, but the truth is I find those videos come second to the ultimate emotion and beauty that is These Are The Days. While it breaks my heart to see Freddie Mercury at the end of his era, when he whispers 'I still love you', I instantly smile through it all and it's one of the very few videos that gives me perspective on life, how short it is, and how we have to live while we're here, because nobody knows when the pen's going to run out of ink drawing out our timeline.

7. Death Cab For Cutie - Title and Registration
Strangely enough, I'm the most squeamish girl in the world, yet I love this video of a paper open heart surgery procedure because of its emotional value. The direction of this video is amazing, and the paper organs are little works of art. This band are so criminally underrated, so if you've never heard of them, please, I implore you, give this video a watch.

8. Maroon 5 - Payphone
I used to have a recurring dream that I was running away from the police. Not that it's a sign of a guilty conscience or anything, I just have an irrational phobia of police authorities.
I fell in love with this video not only because Adam Levine's all geeky one minute then all hot and rogue-y the next, but because of the motif of escaping a monotonous life to find another. 
Of course, I couldn't forget the song. Easily becoming my favourite song, it reminds me of everything that I am. Escaping my life to find another.

9. Poets Of The Fall - Carnival Of Rust
I discovered this band in college and while I haven't heard many of their songs, this video absolutely changed my life. When I was writing my coursework, I took inspiration from this idea of a carnival of nightmares. The man in the fortune teller's box was a genius idea - what if the fortune teller is trapped inside that box forever, and all he can do is warn others that their fate could be similar?

Psy - Gangnam Style
And finally, the humorous entry. The novelty's worn off for most, but for me, it just keeps getting better and better. I was known in school for catching onto crazes such as Crazy Frog quite late and then consistently annoying the shit out of everyone by putting them on repeat years later. Gangnam is no exception. I'm still as much in love as the first time.

What are your top 10 music videos?

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Zombies Wear Band Shirts

Ahoy there! Welcome to Zombies Wear Band Shirts, I'm Ali! I'm 20 and I study History in the south of England. I've been blogging for almost a year over at Zombies Wear Eyeliner, where I've talked about makeup, music and pretty much everything that interests me. After the initial buzz of beauty blogging, I realised writing about music flows so much easier and more naturally to me than discussing an eyeliner. And that's where Zombies Wear Band Shirts was born, although I owe a huge debt to my friend Sophie for the amazing blog title!

Music has always been a massively important part of my life, and so much of my life is determined by the music I'm listening to at the time. But I'm not a musician, I can't read sheet music, I don't play an instrument and I don't know the difference between a bridge and a hook. But I'll tell you what I do know - how to voice my opinions on something. Whether it's an informed opinion or not, I can tell you what I think of a long-awaited album, what I think of a band that's just broken up, what I think of an up-and-coming band that deserve more recognition.

What can you expect from Zombies Wear Band Shirts?

Well what do you expect from a music blog? Track and album reviews, gig reviews, introductions to new bands... you name it, you'll probably find it here.

My music tastes aren't particularly limited. It's way too clichéd for me to say 'I love any type of music', but I'm willing to give anything a try and be as objective as I possibly can about it. Of course, I have my areas of expertise, mainly glam rock and pop punk. I grew up with Queen, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper, despite being born in the 90s, I'm a 70s girl at heart. My teenage years were spent with My Chemical Romance, The Used and Fall Out Boy on constant loop, and those were quite possibly the best years of my life.

I set myself a challenge throughout 2013 to review an album or two of the bands featured each month on the Metal Hammer 2013 calendar, so at the end of each month you'll be able to read my thoughts on Miss May I, Five Finger Death Punch, Slayer and many more.

So that's it! I hope you enjoy everything in store on Zombies Wear Band Shirts, I'd love to know what you'd like to see here, so feel free to leave a comment down below!

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