“Over It” – Bullet For My Valentine

Image result for Bullet for My Valentine

Release Year: 2018

Rating: 5.5/10

Bullet For My Valentine have been one of my favorite metal bands since The Poison. I love the way they mix intense, technical riffs with melodic moments yet keep the aggressive mood. So when they announced a new song, I was ecstatic. Venom was a great follow up to the disappointment that was Temper Temper. I couldn’t wait to hear the next blistering track the band had in store. Sadly, it’s one of their weakest songs.

“Over It” is such a disappointment. It’s not terrible, but it’s a forgettable track. All the excitement, anger, aggression, and thrills that make up a Bullet song are missing. The opening isn’t bad; the intro riff and slower pace is something a bit different for a lead single, but I kept waiting for the moment when the song kicked into high gear and came alive; it never happened.

The music is dull and bland. It sounds like it could by any rock band on the radio. There’s very little about it that commands your attention and pulls you in. After hearing it a few times I thought “Eh, it’s okay I guess.” The lack of screaming vocals makes it worse. I’m not saying they need to take over the whole song; you just want more of them.  The brief moment they appear, you realize how much they’re missing. The song also lacks their signature riffs and solos.

The thing that gets me excited for a Bullet song are the insane riffs and solos. Michael Paget is a beast on the guitar and always shows off his skill with fiery, dizzying solos. And the riffs themselves are memorable. Think back to songs like “Room 409” or “Waking the Demon.” Those riffs instantly grab you and suck you in. All of this is missing on this song. The guitar isn’t bad, but it sounds pretty average. It doesn’t have that Padge stamp and is lacking the excitement, fire, and aggression. It’s another generic riff we’ve heard on other rock songs.

Everything about the track is weak, especially the lyrics. Bullet aren’t amazing songwriters, but they’ve made more compelling tracks than this. The lyrics are cliché and sound more fitting coming from an angsty teen. And some of them are baffling, particularly the bridge: “Breathe in/breathe out/don’t wanna ride your carousel.” The song also follows this formula Bullet has fallen into over the years: intro riff, quiet music while Matt sings “angry lyrics,” exploding, distorted hook, return to verse, breakdown, repeat.

“Over It” is Bullet at their weakest. Even Temper Temper sounds better than this. It’s a bland, generic song that has none of their signature riffs, solos, or aggression. It’s tolerable on its own, but it doesn’t get you excited for their upcoming album. There’s nothing memorable about this song. You’ll struggle to remember the hook after hearing it a few times. Hopefully, this isn’t representative of the entire record. I’m still looking forward to hearing more from them, but for now, my expectations for Gravity are low.

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Blue Sunshine – The Glove

Release Year: 1983

Rating: 7/10

It’s not unusual for artists to break out of their comfort zone and take on different projects. Though he’s the charming frontman for The Cure, Robert Smith wanted a break from the spotlight. With the help of some friends and some drugs, Smith recruited Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Steve Severin and vocalist Jenette Landry to form the psychedelic outfit The Glove. The group only produced one album, Blue Sunshine, and it’s a weird trip.

The eccentric album has elements of both The Cure and the Banshees but feels like a hodgepodge of different sounds and styles. Many songs such as “Like An Animal” have a psychedelic vibe to them with swirling synth, dizzying music, and weird lyrics involving sex and death – at least some things don’t change for Smith. At times, the album feels like a weird acid trip that you’re not sure is good or bad. The band plays around and mashes various styles together on songs like the breezy “Looking Glass Girl,” which sounds more appropriate for a Cure album, the disjointed and dizzying “Sex Eye Makeup,” and the manic, bizarre sound collage that is “Relax.” It’s as if the band threw caution to the wind and recorded whatever they felt like.

The songs can be jarring with the weird music, but what’s most unexpected is the absence of Smith’s warbling vocals. Landry takes over vocal duty and even though her voice isn’t bad, sometimes her high-pitched shouting is grating. At times it feels like your ears are going to bleed. Luckily, Smith does lend his voice to two songs: “Mr. Alphabet Says” and “Perfect Murder.” And of course, if you’re a Smith fanatic, they’ll be the best songs from the album. The former is actually the most memorable track with its bouncy opening. Here, we move away from the psychedelia and move into a weird, bluesy mood. It has a jangly piano that’s reminiscent of ragtime tunes. What really puts the song over the top are the additional strings. It gives the song a sense of drama, which is a bit unexpected. Sometimes the strings are jarring, other times it’s oddly pretty.

“Perfect Murder” also has great music. The opening exudes a tropical feel with the playful xylophone kicking things off. Smith sleepily sings lyrics like “move inside my daydream/like fingers in a glove” making for a mood that’s lazy and soothing. Something about it makes you feel like you’re in a hazy, hot jungle. The song ends with Smith’s random noises and howls along with what sounds like crickets chirping in the night. The music and the overall feel makes it stand out from the other songs on the album. Those who prefer Smith’s vocals will be happy to know Glove songs featuring his singing were eventually released on the 2008 reissue.

None of the songs are bad; if anything the music is interesting and catches your attention. But few of the songs aren’t very memorable. Some of them haven’t aged well, either. “This Green City” has a twinkling Casio riff that sounds like it’s taken from a 70s news program. When you hear it, it just makes you laugh. “Punish Me with Kisses” has a similar problem with a cheesy piano riff from a cheap effects program. “Orgy” is a bit of an exception since its snake charmer-esque music is hard to forget. It plays like it’s trying to put the listener in a trance. “Blues in Drag” is an odd, soothing instrumental with echoing keys and gentle strings. It has its pretty moments but is easy to forget when compared to the other songs.

Blue Sunshine is one weird ride. It’s an odd, psychedelic experience that makes you wonder exactly what drugs the group was taking at the time. It’s not necessarily the best album, but its experimental nature makes it worth a listen. Because the band plays around with so many styles you never know what to expect next, which can make it fun. There are some upbeat, catchy songs, but some of them are forgettable. It doesn’t help that the lyrics sound like nonsense at times. It’s weird enough to keep you engaged, but it’s definitely an acquired taste.

Playlist: Awesome MadTv Performances You Forgot About

Anyone remember MadTv? Back in the 90s and 2000s, if Saturday Night Live wasn’t your style, chances are you turned to this show for laughs. It gave us iconic and hilarious characters like Miss Swan and Stuart. After In Living Color, it’s still one of my favorite sketch shows of the 90s, even though I probably shouldn’t have been watching. It also gave us some killer performances. Since the last few seasons of the show and the shoddy revival weren’t that great, it’s easy to forget the big names MadTv pulled in. Featuring new acts and legends helped the show stand out from its competition. So, let’s take a look back at some awesome MadTv performances you probably don’t remember.

The Cure – “Maybe Someday” (2000)

How MadTv managed to get The Cure to perform on the show is a mystery. Robert Smith can get picky about where he plays and a lewd comedy show featuring a grown man in his underwear doesn’t seem like one he’d be a part of. However they did it, the show got The freaking Cure to play “Maybe Sunday” in 2000. It’s a solid performance with Smith and the band sounding amazing as usual. Sadly, it’s a condensed version of the song with Smith not singing the first verse and going straight into the breakdown after the hook, but he’s Robert Smith. He can do that if he wants. I actually remember seeing this right as I was getting into the band. Smith and his wiry black hair captivated me just as much then as he does now. This is still one of my favorite MadTv moments.

The Strokes – “Is This It?/NYC Cops” (2002)

MadTv album Bobby Lee introduces The Strokes as his favorite band and they kick off their two-song set with “Is This It?” As always, frontman Julian Casablancas looks disinterested being on stage. Things get more lively for “NYC Cops” as fans get out of their seats and rush the stage. The scene never gets chaotic; everyone just wiggles and dances in the background while Casablancas looks distraught. The weird part comes at the end when we see Frank Caliente and Mo Collins as George and Babara Bush complaining about MadTv being over and trying to find something else to watch. The scene would be more enjoyable if they actually let The Strokes finish performing.

Queens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows” (2003)

This was around the time QOTSA hit the mainstream, despite releasing two albums prior to Songs of the Deaf. Both this and “Go With the Flow” are a blast to watch. Josh Homme and co go at it hard like they’re playing one of their own shows. The crowd kind of just sits there and politely nods, which is strange. With our current image of Homme being clad in leather, covered in tattoos, and looking slightly haggard, it’s funny to see a young, fresh-faced Homme. Though I can’t get over his creeper mustache. Luckily, he doesn’t revisit that too often.

Sum 41 – “Still Waiting” (2002)

Sum 41 absolutely kills it with this performance. Not only do they sound great, they’re energetic and go it hard bringing some aggression to the MadTv stage. It’s short, sweet, and straight to the point. No weird sketches or tricks here. It’s just the band doing what they do best. But you can’t help noticing the crowd just sitting there nodding their heads to the music. With the hard driving nature of the song, you’d expect people jumping around or least dancing in their seats. It’s kind of weird.

Creed – “Higher”(2000)

Okay, so this performance isn’t that awesome; it’s just funny to look back on. Believe it or not, there was a time when Creed wasn’t a stain on music. Even though the show made funny Creed parodies, even they couldn’t deny how successful the band was. Listening to the performance now, it makes you wonder how people sat there and took Scott Stapp’s vocals seriously. It sounds like he’s doing a bad Eddie Vedder impression throughout the entire song. And seeing him give “sexy” faces to the camera makes you cringe. Still, it’s better than the time Stapp forgot all the words to his songs, so that’s a plus.

Green Day – “Blood, Sex, and Booze” (2001)

After a weird joke from Will Sasso, Green Day takes the stage to perform “Blood, Sex, and Booze,” something they rarely play live. They play with the same passion, fire, and fervor they do in their massive stadium gigs. It’s a pretty cut and dry performance for the band that’s still a blast to watch. While I didn’t like the band at the time this aired, I remember rushing home after school around the peak of American Idiot to catch a rerun featuring this performance. They also played “Warning,” which is a solid performance, it’s not as fun as the previous one.

Ja Rule featuring Ashanti – “Always on Time” (2002)

Remember when Ja Rule and Ashanti ruled the airwaves? These two had a number of hit singles on their own, but they seemed to work best when singing with each other. Regardless of how you feel about Ja Rule and his antics now, you can’t deny he was one of the most popular rappers ten years ago. And while Ja Rule’s gravely vocals can be laughable, the two actually sound really good here. As someone who loved singing this song on weekend drives, this throwback is a blast to watch.

Alien Ant Farm – “Smooth Criminal” (2001)

This performance not only features Alien Ant Farm playing their one smash hit, it also has Aries Spears (remember him?!) doing his best Michael Jackson impression. Donned in a suit, fedora, and white makeup making him look like really creepy, Spears teases MJ’s then comeback, pulls off a couple of kicks, and gets carried off by two young boys. Afterward, the band launches into the song while the crowd dances and waves their arms from the comfort of their seats. Seriously, did the show have a no standing rule or something? The energetic performance and Spears’ impression makes this a memorable MadTv moment. Too bad AAF couldn’t manage to score another hit.

Marilyn Manson – “Personal Jesus” (2004)

MadTv really tried to make this performance “edgy” and “cool” with the twisted camera angles and dark lighting. Unfortunately, things are so dark you can barely see Manson and the rest of the band. Compared to his other TV appearances this one is quite tame and he seems a little bored. John 5 and Tim Skold exude more energy than Manson. Being the newly minted Manson fan I was, I ate up every minute of this performance. It’s still better than his recent concert appearances.

Blondie – “Call Me” (1999)

Since the show has been off the air for almost 10 years, (we won’t count the “revival”) it’s easy to forget how many iconic musicians have played the show. Bon Jovi, Wu-Tang, and Ice-T have all made appearances, but Blondie’s is one of the best. While the performance is great even though it’s cut short, it’s the skit with Miss Swan that stands out. Miss Swan fronts the band singing her own incomprehensible version of the song prompting Debbie Harry to come out and ask what the hell she’s doing. Miss Swan then insists she wrote the song on tuba but allows Harry to sing only if she plays nice. It’s a weird bit you’d never imagine the singer being a part, but it happened. But hey, this was when Miss Swan was at hear peak. Who wouldn’t want to be in one of her sketches?

No Doubt – “Bathwater” (2000)

For anyone to remember No Doubt during their peak, this is how they picture Gwen Stefani. The weird, alt girl with her own style and sound. Stefani is slinky and cool as she sings, while the rest of the band ham it up for the camera, especially a topless Adrian Young. It’s a fun, energetic performance that reminds you how awesome both No Doubt and Stefani were. While I don’t mind her current work, it’s just not the same.

Tenacious D – “Tribute” (2002)

You’re never sure what kind of performance you’re going to get from Tenacious D, but you know it’s gonna be weird and it’s gonna rock. The duo didn’t disappoint with this MadTv appearance. Featuring Dave Grohl on drums, Jack Black recounts a tale of singing the greatest song in the world for a beast. The thing is, they can’t remember it. Black gives his usual hammy rockstar performance that’s fun to watch. The best part comes when he gently sets down his guitar, rips off his shirt to show off his flame painted gut, and “breathes fire” out of his mouth. Clearly, they’re a perfect fit for the show. Too bad they didn’t have them on more often.

There are so many performances I wanted to include, but couldn’t find like Outkast and Wu-Tang Clan. So which MadTv performance is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Man of the Woods – Justin Timberlake

Image result for justin timberlake man of the woods

Release Year: 2018

Rating: 6/10

When I first saw Justin Timberlake’s rugged, I’m-an-outdoors-man promo for Man of the Woods, I was not happy. I didn’t want down to Earth Justin. I wanted Sexyback Justin. Luckily, the album isn’t stepped in folksy roots as the promos made it out to be. Unfortunately, the album isn’t that good. The main problem is there are no songs that stand out, grab your attention, and make you want to crank it up whenever you hear it. The closest we get is lead single “Filthy,” which is just weird and takes a while to grow on you before you start singing it.

Songs like “Man of the Woods,” “Midnight Summer Jam,” “Wave,” and “Higher Higher” are fine but pretty generic. Once the album ends you don’t remember them until you play the LP again. They have decent music and some pretty good hooks, but there’s nothing exciting about them. “Say Something” featuring Chris Stapleton is an unexpected highlight. It’s got just the right amount of a country vibe to please country fans and non-fans alike. Plus, Stapleton and Timberlake sound great together.

Most of the songs are inoffensive and not bad to listen to, but they’re just there. “Montana” may have a 70s inspired groove, but it sounds too similar to the rest of the songs on the record. “Morning Light” featuring Alicia Keys is nice but gets boring pretty quickly. The rest of the tracks like “Breeze Off the Pound,” “The Hard Stuff,” and “Livin’ Off the Land” are hard to discern from one another since they sound so similar. And seeing as they’re the closest thing to Timberlake’s newfound persona, they don’t really do much for the record.

Other songs are just cringy. “Sauce” features the unfortunate line of “I like your pink/you like my purple,” which is wrong on so many levels. It also features him doing a shoddy Prince imitation, which is hard to sit through. “Supplies” is even worse. Timberlake attempts a trap song filled with generic hip-hop music and an annoying hook. It’s so out of left field, it doesn’t fit on the album. And it’s hard to take “Flannel,” an ode to a fucking shirt, seriously. He actually sings the line “But if I’m bein’ selfish, that gave me a reason to be there/With my flannel on.” The preceding interlude featuring his wife Jessica Biel is even worse. She talks about wearing his shirt and how makes her feel like a woman. It will make you roll your eyes.

Man of the Woods is a definite miss for Timberlake. While there are a handful of decent songs, the album severely lacks the fun, must-listen-to dance hits he’s become known for. Most of the songs are generic or just plain dull. After hearing the album a few times, I couldn’t care about it anymore. It’s not the weird, earthly vibe we thought it would be. Even worse, it’s a boring, generic safe record for Timberlake.

10 Bizarre Musical Projects You Didn’t Know About

Sometimes when you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time, you want to try something different. Our favorite artists and bands go through the same things. You often hear about artists wanting to break free from their established sound and do something new and out of the box. Sometimes it can produce successful projects that show another side of an artist you thought you knew. And other times it’s a spectacular failure. So let’s look at ten weird musical projects you may not have known about. Not all of them are failures, but they’ll make you see these artists in a different light.

10. Damon Albarn Writes an Opera

Considering how many projects Damon Albarn has created, him writing an opera doesn’t sound that shocking. In 2011, he teamed up with theatre director Rufus Norris for the production Dr Dee: An English Opera. The opera is based on the life of John Dee, who was a medical and scientific advisor to Elizabeth I. Originally, the production was meant to be a collaboration between Albarn, Jamie Hewlett, and graphic novelist Alan Moore. It played at the Palace Theatre in Manchester in July 2011 and was received relatively well. The soundtrack to the opera was later released in 2012 and honestly, it doesn’t sound too different from his other material. While the release features traditional operatic tracks, other songs sound like they’re from his solo album. They’re spacey, kind of weird, yet beautiful. Maybe he’ll work on a Gorillaz opera next. Actually, that would be pretty awesome.

9. Beastie Boys Go Country

Unlike the other entries on this list, this album was made completely in jest. In 1999, the Beastie Boys recorded a full country album dubbed Mike D’s Greatest Country Hits. They never intended it for a wide release. Rather it was a weird gift for their family and friends. In the liner notes to The Sounds of Science, Adam Yauch explained the origin of the album as Mike D losing his memory due to being hit in the head and believing he was a country singer. “The psychologists told us that if we didn’t play along with Mike’s fantasy, he could be in grave danger. Finally, he came back to his senses. This song (“Railroad Blues”) is one of the many that we made during that tragic period of time.” It has a classic good ‘ol country vibe ala Conway Twitty, heavy twangs and all. Even though the songs are clearly jokes (“Sloppy Drunk”, “Don’t Let the Air Out My Tire”) a lot of country songs are strange, so in a way, they fit right in. You can listen to the entire LP on Youtube. And whatever happened to Country Mike? According to Mike D, he’s homeless.

8. Aretha Franklin Gets Disco Fever

Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul who can do no wrong…expect she did by going Disco with La Diva. In the 70s many artists went disco for a spell from Paul McCartney to KISS. So it’s not exactly weird for Franklin to jump on the bandwagon. But since it was around the time Disco died out, it wasn’t her finest output and ended being a commercial flop. Selling under 75,000 units, it’s still her lowest selling album in her entire Atlantic Records career. Yet, the album isn’t terrible. It’s filled with sappy and generic disco songs prevalent during the era. It seems this record was released at the wrong time. Perhaps if it came out during disco’s peak it would’ve been better received. But seeing as disco was dying out, the album seems like a sad attempt to cash in on a dying trend.

7. Serj Tankian Gets Jazzy with Jazz Is Christ

 

Whenever you think of Serj Tankian the first thing that comes to mind is the heavy, intense music of System of a Down. And while he’s experimented a bit with his solo releases, jazz is the last thing you’d expect to hear from him. But that’s exactly where he went. In 2013 he released the album Jazz-iZ Christ with a group of the same name. Featuring pianist Tigran Hamasyan, flautist Valeri Tolstov, and trumpet player Tom Duprey, the largely instrumental album finds the rocker mixing jazz with elements of rock, electronic, and world music. It’s definitely a weird experience, but it doesn’t sound that bad. It does have the mellow flow of Jazz, but thanks to the blend of other genres it keeps you on your toes. It was a pretty successful release and shows the wide range Tankian has as a musician. Though I’m sure people would prefer a new SOAD record at this point.

6. Garth Brooks Confuses the World with Chris Gaines

Garth Brooks is one of country’s biggest superstars, if not the biggest. Even if you don’t like country music chances are you know one of his songs. He had a slew of hits and multi-platinum albums during his peak in the 90s. But not everything he touched went gold – remember Chris Gaines? Back in 1999, Brooks introduced this “edgy” alter ego to the world and released his only album The Life of Chris Gaines. Featuring Brooks doing his best Savage Garden impression, the album spawned one hit “Lost In You.” As you can guess, the project was a flop yet it wasn’t terrible. It was just weird. Not only did the album receive mixed reviews, fans were confused as hell. Was it a joke? Was it really Garth Brooks? Has he gone crazy? They even made a Behind the Music episode for the persona. Just listen to Brooks explain Gaines’ origins and try not to be confused. Turns out, Brooks planned the persona for a movie he was meant to star in called The Lamb. It didn’t happen. After the fiasco he back to country music. He’s good at it, so he should stick with it.

5. Paul Banks Release a Weird, Hip Hop Infused Mixtape

Paul Banks is better known as the monotone, Ian Curtis-eqsue frontman for Interpol. Banks has picked up various side projects, including a solo career, but his strangest is the 2013 mixtape Everybody On My Dick Like They Supposed to Be. There’s so much weirdness packed into this release you’re not sure where to start. Banks handles production and the actual music, which sounds generic and low quality. As for vocals, rappers like Mike G, Talib Kweli, and High Prizm handle the actual rapping – a smart move on Banks’ part. Though, admittedly, having Banks rap on these tracks may have made the mixtape worthwhile. The release was meant to be a pre-release bonus for his second solo album Banks, but it was released a year later. It seems like Banks is genuinely interested in rap as he teamed up with RZA for the project Banks & Steelz, which surprisingly, was received pretty well.

4. Snoop Dogg Becomes Snoop Lion

People weren’t sure what to make of Snoop Dogg’s reincarnation in 2013. After a documentary dubbed Reincarnated, Snoop introduced his new persona Snoop Lion along with his new Rastafarian lifestyle. The album Reincarnated came out the same year and features Snoop doing his best Reggae impression while singing about smoking weed. Well, at least some things never change. To be fair, Snoop Lion isn’t terrible, but it’s still not great. The album was met with mixed reviews, yet oddly enough was nominated for a Grammy for Best Reggae Album. What a slap in the face for actual reggae artists. Seeing as Snoop released his latest album, Neva Left, under Snoop Dogg, it’s safe to say things are back to normal.

3. Tommy Lee Attempts Nu-Metal

Since hair metal died out in the 90s with the onslaught of grunge, Motley Crue wasn’t at their peak during the era. After some less than stellar albums, drummer Tommy Lee left the band in 1999 and formed Methods of Mayhem his attempt at a rap/rock band. The band released their self-titled album, which went gold and actually received decent reviews. Lead single “Get Naked” received moderate airplay on MTV, which is hard to believe since it’s terrible. Lee shouldn’t be allowed to rap because it’s a mess. And the band as a whole is just generic “hardcore” music and lame lyrics trying to cash in on the “nu-metal” trend at the time. Now, people realize just how bad the band was. Everyone except Tommy Lee. In 2009, he reformed the band with a new lineup and released the album A Public Disservice Announcement. Luckily, he doesn’t rap as much and sticks with something that’s supposed to be singing.

2. Pat Boone Goes Metal…Kind Of

Pat Boone makes the kind of music that gets finger snapping and toes tapping….if you’re over 65. Back in the day, Boone was a Renaissance man appearing in movies, TV shows, being a spokesman, a motivational speaker, and a singer. His music is safe and non-threatening, but in 1997 Boone made the bold decision to go metal in the lamest way possible. In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy features the singer covering metal hits like “You Got Another Thing Coming” and “Crazy Train” in a jazz/big band style, which makes the album even weirder. The covers aren’t necessarily terrible, just confusing as all hell. He sounds like a grandfather when singing “Enter Sandman” and “Holy Diver.” It’s like he wanted to make non-threatening metal for people who don’t actually like metal. If that wasn’t bad enough, the album art shows the then 63-year old wearing a vest and chain. Instead of looking metal he looks like a real-life version of that Ken doll that definitely wasn’t gay.

1. Dee Dee Ramone Reinvents himself as Dee Dee King

Dee Dee Ramone will always be remembered for The Ramones, one of the most influential punk rock bands. But his stint as a rapper will forever haunt him. It sounds like a bad joke but the punk rocker took up rapping in 1989. What started as showing up to Ramones rehearsals in hip-hop gear turned into a weird side project. Under the name Dee Dee King, he released the LP Standing in the Spotlight. It’s almost too painful to listen to. Songs like “Funky Man” and “German Kid” sound like your dad rapping because it’s “hip” and “cool” with the kids. The songs are laughably bad talking about how he’s half German or singing about how the Mash Potato will make your “body move.” He even proclaims he’s a master at hip-hop. At the time Dee Dee said he felt a connection with the underdog spirit of the genre. Later, an older, wiser Dee Dee realized it probably wasn’t the best career move. After the album flopped he went back to the Ramones and all was right with the world.

Which of these bizarre projects is your favorite? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!