Top 10 Songs of 2015

Hello again everyone, Kevin here writing my final annual music review blog. Instead of an awards blog I’m just going to list my favorite songs of the year as a going away present to myself. I’ve had fun writing about the billboard 100 since 2011, but I feel the time has come to switch mediums into film and television criticism since I still feel that A) The Film and TV genres still award creativity, and B) There’s still an audience for people who want to movie read reviews and show theories. I’ve witnessed the rise and fall of many artists, one hit wonders, and internet stars over the last few years, and I’m tired of living in an age of accelerated one hit wonders.

2011 was the year I felt I didn’t have to be ashamed of my generation’s pop music anymore (though 2013 nearly made me eat those words), and the following couple of years made me realize that every year of this past decade has been incredibly different with the music styles that have come out. Now that’s not to say that we haven’t had some great music, it’s just that I don’t want to be an indentured servant to trying to change the Billboard 100 forever. So without further adieu, here are my top songs for 2015.

1. Ariana Grande- “Focus”

I’ve always had something of a fan crush on Ariana Grande since I first heard her back in 2014 as I really love her voice, and dig the style of her songs. I enjoyed “One Last Time” in the first part of this year, but I posted this song since I feel like this her most edgy song with it’s risque lyrical content and the unique style of the music video. I like they include the horn section towards the end of the song as well. Lastly, this is one of the more different sounding songs on the top charts right now, and I enjoy listening to it for that reason.

2. Adele- “Hello”

Speaking of 2011, I’m a hardcore Adele fanboy because I often credit her for saving modern music from the bullshit and creative stagnation of 2010 (Refer to: “Call me Mr Flintstone, I can make your bed rock”). When her song “Rolling in The Deep” first came out, I felt very happy as I knew things were going to change on the charts. It’s been five years now since Adele broke into the scene, and when she came back her first single “Hello” was a huge success. I love that she’s continuing her story of how she misses her ex lover that was the basis for her album “21” from 2011. The song itself is a wonderful combination of sadness and melancholy, and Adele’s emotive and powerful vocals add to the soul of the song as their centerpiece.

3. X Ambassadors- “Renegades”

This particular song is one that I’ve personally taken into my heart as I’ve felt like a renegade and an outcast my whole life due to having lived with Autism Spectrum Disorder (given how the video helps promote the differently abeled). I love how the song builds into something from the opening chords of the guitar, into an enjoyable verse, and then to an amazing chorus. Plus I love that line “The Spielbergs, the Kubricks” as those two reshaped modern cinema together as friends, despite the differences in their styles. The lyrics are deeper than your average pop song these days This’s a theme about unity, something the world is really lacking right now.

4. Breaking Benjamin- “Failure”

Growing up as an angst ridden teenager in the 2000s had many ups and downs, and the band Breaking Benjamin in my mind perfectly captured that struggle of growing up with depression and anxiety (with their music). And dammit, they sound awesome doing it along the way. I’ve been waiting since 2009 for these guys to release an album like “Dark Before Dawn”, and it’s amazing flagship single “Failure”. I love this song because even as I approach my late 20s, these guys still release songs that speak to my soul. I have a powerful love of songs that start off slow, but quickly build into something much grander and powerful. Breaking Benjamin has been mastering that style since their first album “Saturate”, and this hard hitting anthem about struggling with the fear failure is no exception. There was some controversy a few years ago over lead vocalist Ben Burnley suing his old band mates for the rights of the band name, but I’m glad to see the new members of the band haven’t changed the core elements of what I love about this band’s sound.

5. Breaking Benjamin- “Angels Fall”

As such, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I should post this band’s second single of the year, Angels Fall. I actually saw Breaking Benjamin live last Summer, and they sound very consistent to how they do in the studio. As for the song, “Angels Fall” is more dramatic than “Failure”, and I find it to be the better song as well. I say that because I enjoy the visuals that singer Ben Burnley uses to paint a picture of the heavens themselves struggling to reclaim what they once were. It reminds me of my past struggles to better who I am as an individual. I’m happy that this band’s album this year was so successful, I can’t think of any other band that deserves said recognition more than Breaking Benjamin.

6. Five Finger Death Punch-“Wash it All Away”

Five Finger Death Punch has always been something of an anomaly to me in that they are probably the most popular metal band of the current decade, yet many metal purists swear them off as not being “real metal”. Well, this song to me shows that FFDP doesn’t really give a damn that you dislike them. They care about their fans, not their haters, and they also care about trying to help veterans. I suspect that the members of FFDP are conservative, but they’ve (wisely) side stepped getting involved in most politics. As for the song it’s self, I really enjoy the chorus of the song as FFDP knows how to write songs around a powerful refrain. I also someone will come wash away the evils of this world, God knows there’s too much evil in it now.

7. Sam Smith- “Writings on The Wall (from Spectre)”

I first heard this song when I saw Spectre back last year when it first came out, and I’ve got to say this song is probably the most grandiose song on the list. I say that because Smith’s vocals and the old school Bond brass band accompaniment offer grand choruses, and the emotive piano tells of a softer side to the man we know as James Bond. Smith does an amazing job carrying the type of tone that sets such a great film, and the man has one hell of a voice. It rivals Adele’s performance on “Skyfall” from 2012. Bravo!

8. Taylor Swift- “Style”

I’m not normally a fan of Taylor Swift’s music as I think her song writing as too simplistic, and she reuses the same lyrical content over and over, but that’s not the case with this particular song. This song has a great mellow beat, a relaxing feel to it, and a chorus that tells of how Swift’s love will never go out of style. I enjoyed some of the songs off of her latest album, and I feel no shame in admitting that I’m not afraid to listen too music marketed to a largely female demographic. Why? Because my masculinity isn’t toxic or frail.

9. Nathaniel Rateliffe and the Night Sweats-“S.O.B”

That last comment had a strong Feminist undercurrent to it, but I may have to revoke any brownie points for posting a song with a sexist word in it (“b*tch”). All the same, the song itself isn’t sexist, it’s just a sort of throw back to the Doo Wop era where the song’s singer is asking for drinks to drown out his troubles. I love the strong old school feel of this song, as half is only A’capella vocals, and the other half is an old school rockabilly band playing during the chorus. Not to mention how catchy said chorus really is. And I how things look with current events, I sure could use a drink myself.

10. Marcus Miller- “I Can’t Breathe FT. Chuck D and Mocean Worker”

Speaking of current events, 2015 was a year of social and political unrest as cops gunned down minorities, and protesters stopped traffic on highways to prove that black lives matter. This groovy song is a direct reference to the police murder of Eric Garner, who inspired the hashtag “I can’t breathe” as he needed an inhaler before he died. This came off the album Afrodeezia by virtuoso bassist Marucs Miller who set out to create an album that emulates African American music through out modern history. I posted this as my final song because Marcus Miller is a personal hero of mine. I discovered his work after learning bass myself. The rapper on this song is named Chuck D., and his words paint the picture of struggle and unrest that was experienced this past summer. Beyond the sobering subject matter, I love just how funky sounding the instrumentation sounds on this song. The bass playing really is the central focus, and it delivers in creating some amazing musical textures.

With that, I conclude my blog post by saying I’ll keep trying to promote small bands that haven’t “made it” in the big leagues yet. But I’ve also come to realize why modern pop music sounds the way it does is to cater to the demand of modern day audiences, while the further down the chart you go the more progressive things become. I know no that everyone shares my visions and opinions musically, but I’m happy that my readers have read my rantings and semi-educational analysis on music. it’s been fun, I’ll see people again when The Walking Dead returns on February 14th.

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Jaco Pastorious

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Photo credit: “The Basslink” via FaceBook

Hello again world of WordPress, I’m taking the time to write a fan admiration piece for the late, great Jaco Pastorious. While I’m primarily a rock bassist influenced by players like Steve Harris and Cliff Burton, I have nothing but respect for the players who pioneered the bass guitar into it’s own solo instrument. This is what Jaco Pastorious did with bass in the early 1970s, not just by being an amazing player who helped re-define and revive Jazz, but did so on his own terms (including his own unique sound in that he made the fretless bass guitar popular).

What does “fretless” mean? It means that the bass guitar has no metal lines to keep the bass strings intonated and that the fingerboard is just bare wood. Fretless creates a “smoother” sound than fretted instruments. See below:

What amazes me about some prodigious musicians like Jaco is how they they never let their fame go to their head.

In this video Jaco stresses that there aren’t any shortcut to greatness in musicianship, Jaco himself spent many long hours to learn how to read music (starting at 4 minutes and 40 seconds in the video). Jaco also learned intonation for the notes on the fretless using a fretted bass (8 minute mark and onwards)  His response to being told how successful he was in this video was a sentiment that all musicians feel; “Hey, just get me a gig, man!”

Jaco struggled with manic depression and bi-polar most of his life, and was killed by a club bouncer in 1987. He left behind a wonderful legacy with his music, and I hope more people who chime in elitist comments like “Jaco never needed to slap or use a five string bass” will realize Jaco was just a normal guy who eloquently played what he wanted too. Other musicians shouldn’t be criticized for their preferences on technique or style, but instead on how much they dedicate themselves to excelling with that style or technique (withholding conversations about auto-tune).

While Jaco never directly influenced my playing styles (I’m a heavy metal bassist), his words about hard work ring true to me in how I should apply myself musically from now on. I had a hard time being a music major in college in that I couldn’t read music on a professional level, but if I had known that even the greats of bass got stuck on reading, and busted their asses off; it probably would have helped me get over my mental blocks with sheet music.

I hope this blog has spread some awareness into the mind of bass players for all of you non-bassists out there in the world. They say bass is often felt and not heard, and I find this to be true until people are made more aware of bass through being told what to look for.

RIP Jaco Pastorious, I’m sure you’re jamming somewhere in heaven with the other greats of jazz.

-KCard

Album Review: “Totality” by Lotus Effect

Local Texas band Lotus Effect reached out to me on Twitter a few months ago, and I finally found the time to check out the album they sent to me to review on my blog. Since it’s taken me a while to start this review I have decided to do a song by song break down like one of my old school blog reviews. What’s written below is my live reaction to hearing each song for the first time.

Songs:

1. “God Particle”- An interesting intro that grabs your attention with thought evoking lyrics about God and scripture. This song uses spoken words for the vocals, starts off mellow with guitars on reverb and then stops into a synth build up, then climaxes into a progressive classical piece reminiscent of an old church chorale from the Baroque era (just dark, not abstract). This piece strikes as a daring way to open an album, and doesn’t disappoint. My interest is garnished, and I look forward to the next song that it flawlessly transitions into.

2. “Window Panes”- This song kicks up as the intro fades a more recognizable alternative metal opening that builds into a heavy metal moshing groove. The singer kicks in at 30 seconds, demonstrating how well he can go from singing to shrieking like Rob Halford from Judas Priest. The instrumentation sounds like modern metal, but also has some more alternative influences. This piece is heavy in the same way that Tool’s “10,000 Days” album was heavy in that it makes you want to mosh, but also makes your jaw drop at all the intricacies thrown in. Overall, this six minute song keeps you on your toes and does not let you down.

3. “Hangman”- This piece reminds me stylistically of Iron Maiden meeting bands like Breaking Benjamin and 30 Seconds to Mars in that it progresses on a steady rhythm, and has emotion filled vocals that tell the tale of man forsaken by society and that he will miss his lover. This piece comes off sounding slower in tempo than the previous two songs, but still comes off as pretty strong to me in how the vocals of a story of the forsaken man against the will of an executioner. Not my favorite song, but not the worst thus far.

4. “Try Harder”- This song stands apart from the others as starting off mellow and quickly becomes more dramatic as the song progresses towards the chorus. The song tells of a man who can’t forgive his ex-lover who has wronged him in a deep way. The piece speeds up and slows down in certain parts continuously to build and resolve tension, and the singer’s screaming is especially note worthy in this song.

5. “Totality”- The lead single and name sake of the album displays the band in full form, with hard hitting guitar riffs and riffs that build up into a climatic chorus, an experimental break down with a synthesizer solo, and a dramatic closing in the song where everything slows down. This is my favorite track off of the album so far because this song is just so epic, I love the outro and how this song progresses into something so different then you will hear in a lot of other metal today.

6. “Pumapunku”- In an intro that makes me think of the old west meeting prog rock, this is the most groovy piece on the album thus far and proves to be an epic instrumental to bridge the first half of the album to the second. This piece makes me want to kick ass inside of a mosh pit, but also to contemplate the mysteries of life. A short, but incredibly sweet instrumental.

7. “Coronium”- This piece stands out as a more down tempo and low key feel, but still retains it’s heavy sound when the distorted guitars kicks in. The most notable thing for me in this song is how the bass guitar makes a counter melody alongside the vocals rather than the guitars. I’ll admit that this particular song’s my least favorite on the track so far, but that’s not to say it’s an awful song. This song does grab my attention, and I can tell the band put their hearts into it, I’m just not a fan of how the verses sound with how syncopated every instrument sounds (that they’re off beat rhythmically vs the other songs).

8. “Saviour”- This next song sets itself apart from the previous seven as being the most straightforward thrash metal inspired piece, and also breaks the feeling on musical continuity. With how the first half of the song chugs along like a slow but certain freight train, while the second half sounds reminiscent of Tool’s album “10,000 Days”. While I didn’t like what “Coronium” was going for, this song astounds me with how well Lotus Effect is combining two different musical styles so seamlessly. This song is definitely the game changer in the feel of the whole album, another solid track.

9. “Promise”- Another different piece, this song is more of an alternative rock song that sounds heavy and exciting, but doesn’t strike me as an aggressive song (think Coheed and Cambria). This song is actually very down key through out the whole thing, and makes me think of a man singing to his lover about his struggles to be on this earth. I love this song for the story the lyrics tell, even if it is one of the longest pieces on the album.

10. “Cutting”- This piece opens on a piano playing that sounds incredibly reminiscent of the opening of the Italian Aria “Sebben, Crudele” by Antonio Caldara’s, then fades into a separate fast riff song that is more in the style of speed metal. Another six minute song, this one is like several pieces put together as a master medley of strong and heart filled guitar playing. Compilation style songs aren’t always my thing, but Lotus Effect pulls things off well with how this piece refers back to the main themes towards the end of the song. The piano at the outro sounds gorgeous, it’s truly to die for.

11. “Supernova”- The longest piece on the album at eight minutes and 52 seconds, and it opens just like how “God Particle” does with a dramatic speech and a very drawn out synthesizer interlude that reminds me of something from one of the English dubs of Dragon Ball Z followed by thirty seconds of silence (John Cage, is that you?) After the silence representing the end of days clears, we hear a very expressive western guitar playing with the singer closing out the album in style with harmonies and a violin in the background singing about how his love is an angel. This song is the first song I’ve ever had to say where I grew bored with the first half, but loved the second half dearly. Kudos to to Lotus Effect for closing out an album this progressive in such a traditional method.

Instrumentation:

Each member of the band has a solid grasp of their instrument, but I feel like the majority of the focus goes to the vocals performed by Dre Giles for how amazing he can hit those high notes and still bust out some epic screams. I’m fond of the guitar work by Ricki Marquez, the drumming by Richie Caldwell is perfect with the style, and I like how independent of a role the bass played by Vincent Fink and how it holds it’s own melodies at times vs just being purely a support instrument. Of course, being a bassist myself I’m always going to be a bit biased towards the bass guitar.

Overall:

I should hand it to these guys, this has been an epic experience to review this great progressive and powerful album that has each song flow seamlessly to the next. I don’t like every single song the same, but I fail to hate any of the songs on this album. It’s a great experience to listen to the album way through, and I can only wonder why these guys haven’t gotten more press than they already have. I rate this album a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommended this album for listeners of alternative and heavy metal music.

You can help me support more local musicians by having them contact me to review their stuff, I’ll gladly take a listen in exchange for blog shares. I’m happy Lotus Effect sought me out, and I hope it’s the first of many bands to do the same.

-KCard

Five Christmas Songs Worth Hearing

Let me start off by saying Merry Christmas to everyone that celebrates it.  Speaking of Christmas, I’m rather tired of hearing the same Christmas songs repeated every year non-stop. If you like all Christmas music, then that’s great for you since it plays non stop on every radio station beginning in the middle of November and ends today. I wanted to make a list of Christmas songs for the rest of us who tend to sort through all of the coal for the diamonds.

5. “Last Christmas”- Wham!

The 80s was before my time seeing as I grew up in the 90s, but it was probably the last decade in which we had note worthy original Christmas music. A tale of heartbreak on a holiday about peace and family love ending in finding love once more, it stands out as unique in my mind compared to some of the more cheesy Christmas songs made in 60s and 70s. I love the synth chords, George Michael’s heart filled vocals, and the steady beat driving that mellow yet melancholy feel of the song. It’s a classic to me despite being overplayed.

4. “Carol of the Bells”- Pentatonix

A modern Acapela cover of real classic carol composed by Mykola Leontovych in 1904. I normally don’t go for Acapela groups that often, but I really love YouTube artists like Pentatonix and Peter Hollens since that have really breathed new life into a genre best known to be sung by teenagers and theater snobs. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a snob on the arts, ahem. Other than the numerous moving harmonic textures heard throughout the song, I just love how Pentatonix uses their voices to paint a picture of an epic Christmas carol that gets you excited for an epic Christmas.

3. “I WIsh it Was Christmas Today”- Julian Casablancas

And so we have a more cheesy, but still quite enjoyable song about how Julian Casablancas wishes that today was Christmas. Thankfully today actually is Christmas, so that wish has been granted. I reviewed this song a few years back on my old blog, but I still find it enjoyable and it’s a nice little Christmas anthem. The music’s straightforward composing doesn’t leave much to comment on, but I do feel that Casablancas believes what he’s singing in his heart to be proof of great emoting. I also really dig that mini guitar solo towards the end.

2. “Christmas Song” -Dave Matthews Band

While some will scoff at Dave Matthew’s voice and the “white guy with acoustic guitar genre”, I’ve always had a soft spot for this type of music. I find it relaxing and wholesome, the flip coin of aggressive heavy metal or risqué pop music. I recently discovered this today. I find it so mellow, expressive, and wonderful to listen too. It covers religious aspects of Christmas and how the forces of love and peace conquers all things on this day. It’s an added bonus to have an acoustic religious song be subtle rather than some other songs out there which are just too “Jesus Freaky”.

1. “Little Drummer Boy” -John Denver

There have been many covers of this particular piece from Johnny Cash to The Animaniacs, but the John Denver version stands out to me for its overall majesty celebrating the birth of Jesus. I love how Denver uses his 12 string guitar in conjunction with a full orchestra (which was even performed by Denver at The Vatican in the past). I’ve always had a soft spot for this version since John Denver is my favorite folk singer, and Denver believes every word he sings on this song. RIP John Denver, your music will never be forgotten to those who love it.

And so we have my five favorite Christmas Songs, if I missed any songs that you as a reader enjoy; feel free to share them in the comments section. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year everybody!

-Tatteybye

Reaction to “Only” by Nicki Minaj

*Trigger warning: foul language, sexual themes, Nazi imagery*

*Less serious trigger warning: awful music*

So I watched the music video for “Only”, and I’m not highly offended by the Nazi imagery or the fact that Nicki Minaj cited Metalocalypse as an inspiration for the video. What annoys me more is how how stale the beat of the song is, and how vulgar the lyrics are. I’m surprised because I thought most of these rappers did club songs, not stuff this slow and stale. The lyrics in the music video are insanely bland and more screwed up than the video they appear in. I want to say that this is happening because the parties involved only care about money, but I can’t back that claim up. What I can back up is that this song is just an ink blotch on an otherwise strong year for music. It’s just sad that shock value is what sells now.

Here’s the video, which relates to the trigger warnings above.

Please keep in mind I will not approve of any racist or otherwise hateful comments about the musicians in this song, it’s important to separate the person from the art work. All trash talking and/or defending should be purely about the video and the song. Thank you.

-Tatteybye

The Top Five Worst Songs of 2014 (Thus Far)

*Warning: sexually explicit language and imagery in this blog post*

So I got around to the follow-up, just a lot later than anticipated. That’s not really a problem though since horrible music has always been around, and always will be (just look at most of last year’s hits as proof). I’m happy to say that I had a harder time picking out terrible songs this year than I did last year, so things are still great in my eyes (even if rock music isn’t a chart topper anymore). Some of my opinions could shift by the end of the year, but that’s then and this is now. Also, I have no ill feelings towards the artists mentioned here as people, what I disagree with on this blog is on an artistic level. So now begins my list of my top least favorite songs of the year so far!

5. “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX

It was inevitable that I would write about this song considering how much it was overplayed during the summer and how Iggy gained her fame this year seemingly overnight. I really dislike this song because it’s driven off of the same repetitive synth riff and that lame crowd sample that artists have overused this year. And to be honest, when I first heard this song I would have had no idea Iggy was Australian, but rather an independent black female rapper from LA. I’m not going to preach whether Iggy’s rapping is racist though because as a white male, I don’t feel qualified to talk about what African-Americans have to face day-to-day in their struggles. What I do know is that this song’s a horrible pain to my ears.

4. “Wiggle” by Jason Derulo ft. Snoop Dogg

So it seems that this miserable excuse of a hip-hop song has twerked worked its way into my blog. For good reason; it’s boring as all hell with an incredibly slow beat, an only somewhat catchy pan-flute melody, and the most boring chorus I’ve heard in my whole life. My main objection is I just feel like a song about a women doing an erotic dance should be at a tempo that an erotic woman would actually dance too (#logic!) The only part of the I do actually enjoy is around the 2:40 mark where Derulo starts singing with rising chords and harmony in the background, but then soon drops back to the lack luster hook of the song. Of course there is a lot objectification of women’s bottoms in the song, but this also isn’t my fight. I won’t talk about how sexist the music industry exists as a whole as there are more eloquent and experienced (female) bloggers who can do that (even though I did just point out the issue). As a music journalist, I can only witness the new trends and keep praying that someday that better songs than this one will get notoriety.

3. “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj

Yet another Twerking song that’s had some pretty big notoriety this year. I just want to point out that this song never “butchered a classic rap song”, it sampled a joke from the 90s and turned it into a joke song for today. My main objection to this song is the poor quality of the music, not the sexual imagery (since people’s bodies are nothing to be ashamed of). Every time this song comes on the radio I immediately change the station because it causes me cognitive dissonance because it sounds so dissonant and how the tempo drags, a feeling I haven’t since listening to Ke$ha’s “Dinosaur”. I despise this song by default, but I still respect Nicki Minaj’s sense of humor for remixing the song and how she reacts towards her critics.

2. “Blame” by Calvin Harris ft. John Newman

To make things clear, I actually enjoy most of the music in this song. What I object too is how computerized (auto-tuned) Calvin’s voice sounds here. It would have made this so much better if it was sung in a more natural way, but everything is shifting to digital these days so much that they have robots who can play the trumpet now (look that up on Youtube if you want proof). Auto-tune has its place to help correct mistakes and be used in a stylistic manner, but too much auto-tune is like putting too much salt on your fries; you’re ruining the taste of the whole experience! So I don’t outright hate this song  as I do enjoy listening to it, I just feel the vocal mixing should have been handled much better.

1. “Trumpets” by Jason Derulo

Speaking of trumpets, I put this ahead of Anaconda and the others because this particular song annoys me to no end. I get that this is a love song and the intention is  having Derul praise the beauty of his lover, but the instrumentation is plain bland and the lyrics are lazy at best (“your bra remind[s] me of a Katy Perry song”??) I should also mention that trumpets used in a symphony setting sound very different from the ones played here since this trumpet is playing a pop dance hook, not classical music. I’m also pretty sure that actually isn’t a real trumpet in the song, but a poor quality imitation by a synthesizer. If you want to hear a quality love song by Jason Derulo, check out his song “Marry Me” that he released last year and let “Trumpets” fade into obscurity.

So here are my least favorite songs this year, generally what I dislike about these types of songs are that they are either not very creative, are of a vulgar audio quality, or if they just don’t catch my interest. If you love these songs then don’t let me stop you, but also understand it annoys me that I have to hear these songs in public all of the time. I’ll have more musings in my annual Fill in The Blanks Music Awards in December. If you have any song recommendations for me to praise or rip apart, then let me know in the comments!

-Tatteybye

My Top 5 Favorite Songs of The Year (So Far)

It’s been quite some time since I’ve actually posted about the songs I’ve enjoyed and didn’t enjoy this year. At any rate, these songs span a few genres of songs I enjoyed this year. So without further ado I’ll go into my conquest of Walgreens, I mean, my favorite songs this year.

5. Sia “Chandelier”-

I don’t normally go for these type of late 2000’s club dance songs, but the chorus in this song is pretty damn majestic. I love how well Sia emotes how she wants to live a free live and soar like a bird, even though the song describes the burnout life style of a party girl. I first heard of Sia  when she performed “Titanium” with David Guetta, and needless to say “Chandelier” blows “Titanium” straight out of the water.

4. Charli XCX- “Boom Clap”

The only part of this song I dislike is the opening with “boom boom clap” with the synth bass that sounds like a hovercraft, but as soon as Charli enters with the vocals it turns into a very enjoyable song. Judging by the video it looks like this song was written for The Fault in Our Stars OST, which is interesting since I didn’t bother watching the film yet since I don’t bother with what I deem to be “chick-flicks”. That said, the song also has a really great chorus to it that I enjoy due to the accented bass and the chorus of background voices. It seems like most pop songs of the decade save the “money hook” for the chorus in each piece, which gets old fast, but can work if it sound awesome. If any of you think I should check the Fault in Our Stars then I will, but I will probably need to read the book first.

3. Nico & Vinz “Am I Wrong”

Unlike the two previous titles, I enjoy this song all the way through because it’s down tempo and very laid back despite how the song is about a man pleading his lover to stay with him. I enjoy the singing in the chorus, the steady beat, the bridge toward the middle of the song, and the overall feel of the song. Not bad at all, I might award this top pop song in December on my third “Fill in the Blank” music awards blog.

2. Lacuna Coil “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name)”

A big contrast to the previous three songs, it’s only natural for me to include at least one hard rock song on my list. I’ve always loved Lacuna Coil since for Christina Sacbbia’s haunting contralto vocals, and their songs really fit the spirit of Halloween (seeing as this IS October). The song from what I can gather is about forgiving an aggressor, but not forgetting what they did to you. It’s pretty badass overall since it sounds very haunting and builds to a great climax in the chorus.

1. Five Finger Death Punch “The Wrong Side of Heaven”

The biggest contrast to the previous four, this song hits me right in the gut with its amazing instrumentation and it’s PSA style music video about displaced and mistreated veterans. The intro grabs you, the chorus packs a great punch, the solo is trippy and saddening at the same, and the screams are used for dramatic tension. I’ve loved this song since it came out last year,and I think it has a lot of replay value to it. And as the kids from my generation say, it hits me with “DEM FEELS.”

So there is my list for today, I’ll write a list of my least favorite songs this year so far tomorrow. If there are any songs that you would like for me to check out for my awards blog in December, then leave a request in the comments!

-Tatteybye

28 Years Gone: RIP Cliff Burton

For those who don’t know, Clifford Lee Burton was the second electric bass player of Metallica who served in the band for six years before his untimely and gruesome death on September 27th, 1986. Burton had the upper half of his body crushed in a tour bus accident after the bus hit black ice:

As a heavy metal bassist, I’ve always considered Cliff Burton to be one of my biggest influences next to Jason Newsted (also of Metallica) and Steve Harris of Iron Mainden. Cliff taught Metallica how to harmonize their guitars, and was a prolific song writer in how epic all of the songs he wrote sounded. Cliff was also very open-minded about different forms of music, so I’m sure he would have liked the idea of Metallica experimenting with different styles of music to some extent.

Some people feel that Cliff was an “overrated” bassist, but I don’t why they would say that since they never did anything better musically themselves and probably never will. To use a saying famous in my generation, “haters gonna hate.” Since I was born in 1989, Cliff died well before my time and I’m saddened by that fact. However, his influence lives on to inspire new generations of bass players (myself included). I’m also happy to know that he’s still recognized for his accomplishments and talents 28 years later.

RIP Cliff, I’m sure you’re jamming with other great musicians in the great beyond.

-Tatteybye

I Didn’t Watch the VMAs

It’s because I don’t care about the VMAs since the music they showcase has been awful to my ears, and likely always will be. I now accept that I alone cannot change the music industry with either my music or my writing since people are content with the same recycled beats and ideas over and over again. I’ll just keep listening to the music that makes me happy and let the industry sort out it’s troubles and ever changing fads. Honestly, coming to this conclusion has been like a huge weight being lifted from my shoulders. If you like the VMAs then don’t let me stop you, I’d just like to enjoy some peace of mind instead of having to hear Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” or Magic’s “Rude” played ad nauseam everyday on the radio.

In other news, I’m pretty stoked about Breaking Benjamin working on new music. However, that is a blog post for another time.

-Tatteybye

Modern Music

Is a complex subject to cover. I’m not going to say all modern music is awful since every generation has it’s great songs and terrible songs. However, I find my generations music is financially successful, but creatively bankrupt.

As a musician, I prefer songs with actual movement and variation, not the same thing repeated over and over again. When we do get a truly groundbreaking song to top the charts it catches on for a while, but then gets driven straight into the ground by being played 10 times a day on every radio station.

Most songs in the last few years have been about people partying stone drunk in clubs, making love in a truck by a creak, and bragging about how decadent their lifestyle is now that the singer is rich. If you like these types of subject matter in your music, then that’s your right and don’t let me stop you from enjoying it.

Personally, I’ll just keep praying for the day we can hear a badass heavy metal song on the charts again.  That, and  when we can hear more variety and meaning than just songs about clubbing and dancing.

-Tatteybye