Cage the Elephant

Playlist: On The Flip Side

The b-side can be a wonderful thing. Though some of the results are a little harrowing, often times it’s the flip side is more successful than the single. Something about not having the pressure of making a hit single or pleasing radio stations invites artists to experiment and lets loose, which leaves us with some amazing songs.  There was no way I could cover all of the best or notable b-sides in this playlist, so these are just a handful of tracks from some of my favorite artists. So sit back, push play, and get lost in the whimsical world of the b-side.

“Dangerous” – Depeche Mode

This b-side to the already steamy “Personal Jesus” is one of the band’s sexiest songs. It doesn’t have anything to do with the content, rather it’s all about the sound. The hard electro beat and Dave Gahan’s smooth baritone vocals just makes the whole thing sound sexy as hell. Something about it puts a twist in your spine and gives you goosebumps. It even sounds a bit dangerous, especially with the slinking rhythm. In terms of style, the song has the same dark, cold vibe that took over the Violator album. Most would say “Happiest Girl” is the band’s best b-side and while it is good, it’s this gem that’s always been my favorite.

“10:15 Saturday Night” – The Cure

The Cure is one of those bands with a ton of amazing b-sides. I actually made a list of ten of my favorites a while ago. Since that list has all my favorites, here’s another stellar b-side from the band I didn’t talk about. This song features the unmistakable cry of Robert Smith and the “drip, drip, drip” line that pounds into your head. It was this song that convinced Chris Parry to sign the band to his newly formed label Fiction. And though it was the b-side to “Killing an Arab” you could still find it on their debut album. Still, you gotta give credit to the track that started the long and wonderful history of The Cure.

“Pink Ego Box” – Muse

Muse is another band with an insane amount of great b-sides, which is why I also made a list of favorites. While this b-side to “Muscle Museum” didn’t make the cut, it’s still one of their better tracks. It has a pretty simple beat and guitar riff while a young Matt Bellamy wails on about online relationships. The song doesn’t get intense until the end when the rough guitars start screaming along with Bellamy who yells “You turn me on” repeatedly. There’s actually an earlier version of this song  under the name “Instant Messenger” that had an AOL clip saying “You’ve got post.” It had to be removed for copyright reasons, so the band renamed the song. The second title is way more intriguing anyway.

“Into the Groove” – Madonna

This song was originally the b-side to the Madonna single “Angel.” Only later when it was featured on the soundtrack to her film Desperately Seeking Susan was it released as a stand alone single. Either way this is still one of Madonna’s best songs. It celebrates and emulates the club scene she was so fond of in her early years. With the high energy and the blazing synth, you can’t help but get up and dance whenever it comes on. It’s become a fan favorite over the years and is a track Madonna rarely leaves out of her setlist. The song has been remixed, reworked, and reimagined since it was first released, but nothing beats the original that helped make Madonna a megastar.

“Get Down Make Love” – Nine Inch Nails

There are more remixes than b-sides in the NIN catalog, but during the Pretty Hate Machine era, Trent Reznor and company did an industrial cover of this Queen song for the b-side of “Sin.” Whereas the original tries to be sensual and sexy, this version is nothing but raw, harsh, and creepy. The song has all the pulsing synth and electronic that makes NIN songs distinctive and it opens with a odd sample of a doctor asking about a patient’s sexual history. Moaning can be heard throughout the track and if you listen close enough you can hear the actual Queen version albeit played backwards. The experience is weird and eerie, but when you look at songs like “Closer” did we really expect Reznor to treat love and sex nicely?

“Tonight We Murder” – Ministry

Some of the most terrifying and heaviest music comes from Ministry and this song fits both those labels. Released as the b-side to “Stigmata” this track sounds like pure hell. Al Jourgensen cackles, wails, and screams like he’s being tortured while the intense music thumps and grinds to the beat. Everything keeps getting more brutal as Jourgensen steadily loses control as he’s singing. The best is the hook where he sounds evil when he repeats “tonight we murder/tonight we murder.” It actually sounds very similar to Thrill Kill Kult‘s early material, which is no surprise since the two previously worked together.

“Again” – HIM

This melancholy track first appeared as the b-side to “In Joy and Sorrow,” but was later released on a limited edition of Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights. The track is pretty standard for the band: dirty guitars, Ville Valo’s soaring sweet vocals, and Gothic inspired lyrics. This is yet another song that seems to explore the realm of love and death like most of their material. It easily would’ve fit on their third album. The song was later featured in the film Haggard, which was directed by Bam Margera (remember him?) This doesn’t come as a surprise since Bam was obssesed with the band and eventually became friends with Valo.

“Carry Me In” – Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant is a current band I know of that actively releases b-sides. All of them are pretty solid, but one of the best is this b-side to their 2011 single “Shake Me Down.” Singer Matt Shultz sounds weary and weakened as he sings “Love/carry me in/held down by my words/and weight of my sins.” The music starts out kind of frantic especially the beginning, which kind of has this spaghetti Western vibe. Right when you think the song is over, everything slows down to a lull and Shultz continues to mumble his way through the rest of the song. What started out as kind of bright ends on a melancholy note.

“You’re so Vague” – Queens of the Stone Age

I originally wanted to go with “Born To Hula,” but it’s a re-recording of a Kyuss song, the band Josh Homme used to be in. So, I went with this Rated R b-side instead. Using a play on the Carly Simon single “You’re So Vain,” Homme uses his sweet, soothing vocals to sing cringing lyrics like “Green eyed boys/lick the razor blades/girl I think I love you/and the mess you made” and he sounds hypnotic while doing so. There’s even a cool twist on the hook where he sings “Baby you’re so vague/that you probably think this song ain’t about you.”  As usual with QOTSA songs, the music is fucking awesome with guitars that move at a dragging pace, but still manage to sound sexy as hell. Then again don’t most of their songs sound sultry?

“We Will Rock You” – Queen

Did you know that this massive Queen hit started out as a b-side? What’s now considered an anthem for every sporting event across the world was originally the flip side to the equally popular “We Are the Champions.” Its simple stomp clapping beat, Freddie Mercury’s passionate vocal delivery, and Brain May’s searing guitar solo at the end are what makes the song unforgettable. It’s a timeless track and definitely among the band’s best. Both songs were actually written after one show during their 1977 tour when the band walked off stage and the crowd clapped and sand “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to them. Let’s just try to forget the horrible cover versions.

“Sick of Me” – Green Day

This b-side to “Hitchin’ a Ride” finds the classic snotty Green Day attitude as Billie Joe laments a dying a relationship. Though it’s a good song, it’s pretty similar to their other tracks from this time: simple three chord rock with a catchy hook. Still, there are some great bratty and funny lyrics like “Like a dog/that just pissed in your barbecue/sick of me.” This couple tries to make it work, but by the end Billie admits “I’m sick of you too.” Since it follows the winning Green Day formula, it should appeal to most fans. The track was later released on b-side compilation album Shenanigans.

“Fingers and Toes” – Biffy Clyro

If there’s one current band dedicated to the art of the b-side it’s Biffy Clyro. For just about all of their albums, they’ve released a companion b-side LP. They have so many it was hard to pick just one, so I went with on my favorites from their last release Similarities. What instantly catches your attention is the opening line “ladies ask why I’ve got/no fingers and toes.” From there the music kicks up and gets pretty intense, but what’s great about this is they do it without a mass amount of distortion. And even though the music has amped up singer Simon Neil’s voice remain calm throughout. Biffy is definitely one of those bands where their b-sides are just as good, sometimes even better, than the a-sides.

“Throw Them to the Lions” – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Released on the flip side to “Dazzle,” this b-side is the exact opposite of the single. Whereas the a-side is very upbeat and almost whimsical, this one greets the listener with a minute of noise and distortion before Siouxsie Sioux’s soothing voice comes on. Everything about the track is pretty chaotic and all over the place. The music is really dirty, harsh, and intense making it a stand out track. The song also manages to be catchy with Sioux’s warrior cry of “hey/hey/hey” midway through. Sioux and crew have quite a few good b-sides, but this one has always been my favorite.

“Aneurysm” – Nirvana

Though the song did eventually see a wider release both on Incesticide and From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, this Nirvana track was originally released as the b-side to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” From Kurt Cobain growling “Come on over/and do the twist” to the whirring guitar riff that opens the song, it has become one of the best tracks in the band’s entire catalog. The song has several references to Cobain’s ex-girlfriend Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill along with poking fun at pop music conventions and even his own drug use, which was nothing but a rumor at the time. The best part comes when Cobain lets loose a ragged and weary howl right before the end. It shows how Cobain knew how to transfer a lot his pain into kick ass songs.

There are a ton of b-sides I missed, so let me know which one is your favorite in the comments!

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14 Alternate Videos

Sometimes bands aren’t happy with their music videos. Other times it causes such a stir that a different version has to be made. Whatever the reason some artist will release several different versions of their videos. And I’m not talking about different edits, extended, or censored versions. These are clips that they completely different from their original concepts. Sometimes the alternate video is better, sometimes worse. Either way, here are 14 videos with alternate versions.

14. “Disposable Teens” – Marilyn Manson

It’s not surprising to find shocking and controversial content in Manson’s videos and this one is no different. In the first version, there are several references to the Bible, including a reenactment of the Last Supper featuring a monkey, and Manson dressed up as the Pope. It’s actually one of his better videos full of gruesome and awesome imagery. The same can’t be said for the second version. This one is comprised only of performance footage. Some of it was included in the original, but this one features the entire band miming the song. It’s still interesting to watch and Manson kills it as usual, but it can’t compare to the eerie original.

13. “Strangelove” – Depeche Mode

The original Anton Corbijn directed clip features many iconic images of the band and is one of their best videos. So it’s odd that they would decide to re-release the single in the U.S. a year later with a brand new video. Whereas the first version is cool and even a little mysterious, this one is just cheesy. It features a big corny set of sky scrapers to some nameless city while various symbols and the song title scrolls across the set and even the member’s faces. There’s one not-so-subtle shot of a heart moving across Dave Gahan’s crotch. All of the guys look uncomfortable as they mime the song while trying to avoid looking into the bright lights. Not even Gahan’s epic dance moves and spinning could save this one. There’s no question about which version is the best here.

12. “Gave Up” – Nine Inch Nails

The original clip for this NIN single features the band in the Le Pig house (AKA the Tate House) recording the song. There’s even a cameo appearance from a young, gaunt Marilyn Manson who helps out on guitar. It’s not the most exciting NIN video, but it’s entertaining. The second version is actually the conclusion to the infamous Broken movie, where the film’s killer chops up his victim while the song plays over the footage. Made to look like a snuff film, it’s gritty, gruesome, and at times difficult to watch. After one viewing it’ll stick in your head whether you want it to or not. If you can’t handle this then you may want to avoid this entire movie.

11. “Hot in the City” – Billy Idol

The original clip to this Idol single is pretty tame and kind of dull. It’s the singer in front of a green screen dancing while images of New York and explosions pop up behind him. Being a product of the 80s, let’s just say it hasn’t aged very well. Idol redid the video in 1987 with a more “intricate” concept. It begins with Idol dancing in a decrepit apartment followed by him peeping in on some weird S&M club/sex party via a hole he made in the wall for no reason. Lots of grinding, thrusting, and fist pumping comes after that, but during this time it was just standard Idol fare. This version ended up being banned by MTV for the closing scene that feature Idol’s then girlfriend Perri Lister strung up on a cross. Even though this one has the bigger budget, I’ve always liked the first version. Sometimes simple is all you need.

10. “In One Ear” – Cage the Elephant

The original clip, which also marks their first music video, features the band performing in a padded cell while singer Matt Shutlz does what he’s known for: flail around the room spastically. The single was then re-released in 2010 with a new video directed by Issac Rentz. This version has more of a wild, house party vibe as the band perform, run around, destroy a school bus, and have what looks to be a kick ass time. Just like the previous clip, this one also shows off Shultz’s wild dance moves and his love of crowd surfing, which he does during the bridge. Both of the videos are fun and do a great job showing off the band’s style. The first version is a little more humorous since Matt is jumping around in a hospital, scaring the shit out of the other members, and making funny faces, but both do the song justice.

9. “Killing Loneliness” – HIM

For this track from their 2005 effort Dark Light, HIM released a UK and a US version of the video. The more well known US version features the band performing in a club and has an appearance by Kat Von D. The more interesting, yet slightly weirder UK version finds the band working in a coin operated peep show while various patrons get their HIM fix. It only gets weird when some of the people get hot and bothered by the performance and begin taking off their clothes or are clearly on the verge of an orgasm. Maybe they thought it would be too much for the States to handle and released the more tame version. But no matter which video you watch you’ll still get your fill of Ville Valo close ups, which is what most HIM fans want.

8. “My Friends” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

What’s interesting about the two videos made for this song is most people are actually familiar with alternate version, so much so I always thought it was the original. The video that’s considered the official one, and is the second version, features shots of the band in the studio playing the song. Nothing more than that, but the first one shot was actually more interesting. The band is on a canoe in the river in various costumes. It starts out pretty simple, but then it gets weirder as they don strange outfits and make up. There’s even a shot with Anthony Keidis where his long hair is standing straight up. It’s a bit weird and may not be easy to figure out what the hell is going on, but it’s definitely more appealing since something is actually happening in the video. Rumor is they felt the video was too artsy and may alienate their fans, which is funny because going by the video comments many prefer the first version.

7. “Viva La Vida” – Coldplay

The original clip for Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” is pretty standard video fair: the band performs the track against a blurry and distorted background. Not super amazing, but not terrible either. Alongside this version, the band released another video for the single directed by Anton Corbijn. What makes this one so special is it pays homage to Depeche Mode’s clip for “Enjoy the Silence.” There’s the same fuzzy quality and Chris Martin walks around in a similar king getup as Dave Gahan. It’s a faithful reenactment and a cool way to honor a timeless video.

6. “They Don’t Care About Us” – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson ran into some controversy with the release of the fourth single from HIStory. First it was the lyrics, which you can read all about the offending line here. Then there was the original music video directed by Spike Lee featuring Jackson dancing and singing in Rio de Janerio. The state tried to ban Jackson from filming there because they feared images of the poverty stricken areas would affect tourism. Jackson was even accused of exploiting the poor people there. A judge banned all filming from taking place but this was overturned by an injunction. 1,500 policemen stood surrounding Jackson along with residents who were singing and dancing with the artist. Since it stirred up so much controversy, Jackson filmed a second version that found him in prison with other inmates while disturbing footage of riots, war, the KKK, and police attacks were shown. Considering the harsh, difficult content found in this version, it’s surprising that the original was the troublemaker.

5. “You Only Live Once” – The Strokes

No matter which version you get, both clips for this Strokes single are pretty awesome. The original, directed by Samuel Bayer, features the band in a small space performing the song while the room fills with tobacco tar. The band keeps playing even when they’re completely submerged under the goo. It’s a simple concept, but it works. The second video is a little more elaborate. Footage of the band performing is mixed with shots of a space ship clearly patterned after 2001: Space Odyssey. This one was directed by Warren Fu and premiered a year after the original. Unlike the stylish first version, this one is seen as a protest against war, hunger, and consumerism.

4. “In Bloom” – Nirvana

Back when they were on Sub Pop, Nirvana released “In Bloom” as a single along with making a music video for the Sub Pop Video Network Program. It’s pretty simple clip featuring the band walking about Manhattan being silly. The song got the video treatment again when it was re-released for their 1991 album. This time around, the band takes the piss out of 1950’s variety programs where artists were praised for being clean cut. Shot entirely in black and white, the guys look straight laced and strange in stiff suits and slicked back hair. Cobain even sports some black rimmed glasses. This is mixed with footage of them destroying their set while wearing dresses. It ends with them back in the suits standing on top of the broken set while the announcer praises them for being nice young men. There were actually three different edits of the latter vid: this one, one with only footage of the band in dresses, and one with all suits.

3. “Stockholm Syndrome” – Muse

Similar to HIM, this single received two videos for the UK and the US. Shot entirely with thermal cameras, the first version is the creepiest video Muse has to offer. Since the camera displays the varying temperatures on everything, much of what’s going on in the video is distorted making them even just performing seem disturbing. It doesn’t help that they keep splashing water around which looks like blood being spilled thanks to the camera. Matt Bellamy look like a foreign being as he sings. The alternate version for the States features the band performing on a cheesy late night show when the sky goes red and an intense wind comes in and destroys the set taking the show’s guests with it. Both vids are intense and do a great job capturing the vibe of the song, but the original is unnerving, no doubt about it.

2. “Sick, Sick, Sick” – Queens of the Stone Age

If you thought the original video for this QOTSA single, which featured a lady stuffing all sorts of food and human parts, into her face without any shame, then the alternate version is even worse. Filmed outside of the band’s label and later made the official video for Germany, this version features Wendy Rae Fowler and Josh Homme “dancing” in front of a green screen with flashing colors and weird images glaring behind them. It has similar animation the band previously used for the “Go With the Flow” video. This one is like a bad drug trip: one minute you’re looking at a hot topless chick, the next eyeballs, multicolored pills, and Homme’s distorted face invades the screen. It has to be their most bizarre video. It’s a bit weird, but worth it if you want to see Homme flail around like a drunken frat boy.

1. “Wait and Bleed” – Slipknot

Slipknot’s breakout hit got the double video treatment back in 1999. While the original and most well known clip features live footage of the band at Ozzfest, the alternate version is more unique and slightly creepy. Each of the members are depicted as little dolls that come to life and gang up on a man trying to catch them. It ends with mini-clown, who is the creepiest of them all, setting fire to the screen. Because of its stop motion style, it stands out among the band’s videos. The dolls are both kind of cute, like you’d want a set for yourself, but also disturbing. Out of the two clips, this one is definitely the coolest and gets right under your skin.

Which alternate video is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Musical Quickie: Deep Hands – Cage the Elephant

Cage-The-Elephant-Deep-hands-cover

Release Year: 2014

Rating: 7/10

Early in October, Cage the Elephant released a brief live EP featuring songs from their third album, such as “It’s Just Forever,” “Spiderhead,” and “Cigarette Daydreams.” While the songs choices are good and the band sounds great like the always do, their previous live LP is better in comparison. The biggest issue with this release is the songs were recorded for Guitar Center Sessions, which gives us a more mellow version of the band. Since this isn’t taken from one of their tour shows, it doesn’t capture the charm, craziness, and energy they usually have on stage. They don’t come off as fun and spontaneous like they do normally. It does a good job at wetting fans’ appetite for new CTE material, but their previous live release is far better. Let’s just hope they’ll put out another live LP very soon.

Playlist: Seeing Double

After being with one band for a while, some musicians are itching to do something different. Rather than getting experimental and releasing it under their established outfit, some prefer to form new bands altogether. Most of the time these side bands are not very impressive and very rarely do they outshine the core band. But if done well, a side band can at least separate itself from their well known work. There are tons of these groups out there, but there are only a few that do their best to differentiate themselves from the core band. I know I missed a lot of groups out there (let me know which ones in the comments), but here are some of my favorite songs from these great and interesting side bands.

“Level” – The Racounteurs

Sometimes it feels like Jack White is in a new band every other week. While in the highly successful White Stripes, he recruited Brenden Benson and other musicians to form this rag tag and gritty group. Though the music is still filled with White’s impressive and innovative guitar playing, the overall feel of the band is rougher and harsher than The White Stripes. The music takes on more of a folk rock feel while still incorporating elements of blues and alternative rock. This is one of the best cuts from their debut album. It finds White and Benson sharing vocal duty leaving lots of room for complex guitar solos. The band would go on to release one more album before going on hiatus. Truth be told, we probably won’t see anymore new music from the group considering White’s successful solo career and his work with The Dead Weather.

“Standing There” – The Creatures

Siouxsie and the Banshees were never afraid to play around with their sound, but this side project featuring Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie was spontaneous. You never knew what type of song they were going to do next. As this track shows, the band was also more in tune with their animal nature. A lot of the sounds and images used in their songs made listeners get in touch with their primal instincts. It’s no surprise since Sioux and Budgie were dating at the time. “Standing There” has vibrant horns, giving it a swing feel, and tribal like percussion that booms throughout the track. The catchiness of the chorus and the Latin dancing featured in the video will make you grab a flamenco skirt and clap fiercely with Siouxsie Sioux. The Creatures would go on to release a total of three albums, but this remains one of their best songs.

“When Your Heart Stops Beating” – +44

The nasty “hiatus” of Blink-182 resulted in two bands from founders Mark and Tom: Angels and Airwaves and +44. While Tom’s band was trying to change the world and the face of music, +44 just wanted to rock out. Consisting of Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, Shane Gallagher, and Craig Fairbaugh, the short lived band released their debut in 2006 with the following song as their lead single. The track is catchy, full of energy, and just puts you in a good mood. It’s not drastically different from what the guys would do in Blink, but it managed to satisfy heartbroken fans. The album did fairly well, but couldn’t match the success of Hoppus’ previous band. It’s a shame because the LP is actually really good filled with irresistible pop punk. They may not have strayed too far from the working formula, but the result was still upbeat and a lot of fun to listen to. Hopefully, there’ll be more music from them in the future.

“I Feel So” – Box Car Racer

This is yet another offshoot of Blink-182. Formed shortly after the release of their fourth album, this band featuring Tom Delonge and Travis Barker went for a heavier sound and drew a lot of influences from punk rock. The album explored dark and serious issues while chugging guitars and lots of distortion played in the background. This single doesn’t featured Delonge’s best writing, but the intense guitars and simple chorus give it a punch. Anyone who listened to this album should not have been surprised when Blink changed their direction for their self titled release. The band was moderately successful, but only released one album. While it was decent it didn’t do much in the alternative rock scene, but it is a lot better than Delonge’s current side band. Some may even say this project began Blink’s downfall since Mark Hoppus was upset he was not part of it.

“Snuff on Digital” – Blaqk Audio

Some side bands have issues making themselves distinct from the core band. This is not the case with Blaqk Audio. Featuring Davey Havok and Jade Puget from punk outfit AFI, this project finds the guys trading in distorted guitars for keyboards. The music here is strictly electronic and synth based with some elements of dark and new wave. Rather than moshing, this music will make you want to dance. Some of it makes you think of the ’80s while others are reminiscent of ’90s techno. Even though it’s a different genre Havok keeps his haunting lyrics in tact. This track is one of the most upbeat and infectious from their debut album Cexcells. Since they released a sophomore LP in 2012 there’s a good chance we’ll hear more music from them in the future.

“Clint Eastwood” – Gorillaz

The Gorillaz are so popular and well known it’s easy to forget they’re an offshoot of Blur. Whereas Blur were the finest example of Britpop, the Gorillaz were all over the place in terms of genre. With elements of hip-hop, pop, electronic, funk, and soul it’s hard to pin them down. Their debut single named after the iconic actor remains one of their best songs. Though Del the Funky Homosapien laid down the rhymes, Damn Albarn’s cryptic singing during lines like “I’ve got sunshine/in a bag” are the most memorable.

“Kamikaze” – Plastic Visions

This band features Brad Shultz of Cage the Elephant and his cousin Kane Stewart; truly a family affair. Cage the Elephant are known for their brash, wild sound and some of that is present on this project. What makes it different is the fusion of punk, noise rock, and surf rock to create their fuzzy, rough sound. This track is the first off their EP and features unchained vocals (similar to Matt Shultz) and scratchy guitars that sound like static. The short, punchy songs are full of energy with this track being one of their finest. Though they’ve only started, hopefully we can expect a full length album from them in the near future.

“Spike” – The Network

When Billie, Mike, and Tre aren’t running around with Green Day they have several musical projects to turn to. One of them is the weird, punk, and electro inspired band The Network. Though the guys tried their best to say they weren’t in the band it’s hard to deny once you hear Billie’s distinct vocals. Rather than their stadium pop-punk, the guys go new wave with lots of synth and odd songs involving lots of sex and drugs. This is one of the best songs from their sole album because it maps out the sad and humorous journey of a junkie trying to score. The track is interesting because there’s very little singing involved. It’s pretty much Spike having a phone conversation with the occasional “I need a fix” for the chorus. It’s a cool idea that the band manages to pull off. Also, I love the way Billie says “La Jolla.” Guess that’s my inner fangirl coming out.

“Punish Me with Kisses” – The Glove

This project is the brainchild of The Cure’s Robert Smith and Steve Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Surprisingly, it features Jeanette Landray, not Smith,  on vocals. At the time, Smith said it was because he wanted more of a background position, but many speculate it was intervention from the label. Still, it’s easy to tell Smith is involved with the project. Though the band managed to get more bluesy and trippy at times, the flourishing keys and dreamy lyrics all sound so similar to The Cure. The frontman even did vocals for the entire album, but they can only be found on the re-release of their album. Landray does a decent job, but Smith’s vocals are the best.

“At Your Funeral” – Pinhead Gunpowder

This band originally formed in the early ’90s and features both Billie Joe Armstrong and Jason White. Though they’ve been around for a while, since two of the members are in Green Day they’ve released very few albums. Unlike their other side projects, this one has a very brash, classic punk rock sound mixed with raw garage rock. Still, it’s hard to miss Billie’s distinct vocals, especially since he gives everything a melodic tone. This track is a personal favorite. It’s rude, snotty, and cynical like so many of Green Day’s best songs. It may be short, but it’s to the point. You can’t miss the snarl as Armstrong sings “At your funeral/Things will be different/I will feel so good.” If you want to get into the band, then this is the best song to start with.

“38” – Revolting Cocks

Featuring Al Jourgensen, Richard 23, and Luc Van Acker, plus a long list of revolving players, this industrial band shares many similarities with Jourgensen’s band Ministry. The above song sounds like something from the band’s earlier efforts. They don’t shy away from the industrial genre, but they also delves into alternative and metal with a hint of psychedelia. Whereas as Ministry was a serious outfit touching on political issues, RC is more self aware and includes a lot of humor and risque topics in their songs. This track is from their debut Big Sexy Land and sports more attitude and less parody than their later material.

“Outsider” – A Perfect Circle

I’ve always preferred this group over the core band Tool. While there are some similarities between the two, this outfit focuses more on alternative and prog rock along with psychedelic influences for an ethereal and haunting sound. Instead of bringing on a heavy mood Maynard Keenan and co keep things on the mellow side, though as this song show things can get intense. While they’ve done some amazing covers of “Imagine” and “Let’s Have a War,” this single shows off their blended sound and will be the most appealing to Tool fans.

“Lies of the Beautiful People” – Sixx AM

While Niki Sixx will always be known for his work in Motley Crue, he has a successful career with his band Sixx AM. With a heavier sound and more thoughtful lyrics than the Crue ever had, Sixx AM deals with issues of beauty, drugs, and addiction. A lot of the material stems from Sixx’s past as a heroine addict. Their debut album was even named after his autobiography The Heroin Diaries. “Lies of the Beautiful People” features the guitarist’s signature riffs and fiery playing style, paired with James Michael the strong and passionate vocals. Talking about the obsession with beauty, the video is a gruesome look at what some will do to meet society’s standards.

“Stop Drop and Roll!!!” – Foxboro Hot Tubs

Yet another side project of Green Day. Whereas the Network focused on new wave, this band has more of a rockabilly vibe with hints of surf rock and psychedelic. With their raw sound they feel like a garage band from the ’60s. The guys cut loose here as Billie takes on the sleazy persona of The Reverend, who howls in just about every song. The band is notable because it sounds nothing like Green Day, which isn’t an easy feat for most side bands. The title track from their solid debut album shows off the vintage, dirty, and sleazy vibe of the music. Since their first album was so promising, hopefully we’ll get some new music from them in the future.

Plastic Visions EP

48046_456382897776374_1004413287_nRelease Year: 2014

Rating: 8/10

Plastic Visions is a promising new band with a bratty, brash, and raw sound. It features frontman Kane Stewart and his cousin Brad Shultz on guitar. That’s right, the same Shultz from Cage the Elephant. While there are some similarities between the two bands, Plastic Visions tries to stand out. With their punk/surf and noise rock infused sound, they are an exciting and fresh band in the rock scene. The songs may not be perfect, but that’s what makes them so charming.

Things get started with “Kamikaze.” The music is loud and moves along at a stumbling pace, like its had too much to drink. Here, Stewart lets his raw, gruff vocals fly and they’re pretty good. I have to admit the singing reminds me of Matt Shultz if he smoked three packs a day, but at least their voices aren’t too similar. They may have similar styles, but both have different sounds. The best part of the track comes during the bridge where everything explodes in noise. It’s so hectic and fuzzy it sounds like a cassette fast forwarding out of control. It may not be the strongest track on the EP, but it’s enough to peak your interest.

“Now I Know” has great energy and chaos packed in a two minute track. The rapid, out of control drumming makes your head spin while the guitar sounds like it’s screaming for its life during the solo. It’s one of those tracks where it’s so good, you lose your mind to it. “Little String” is where the band comes more into their own sound. While there’s still plenty of noise to be found on the song, this one has more of a surf rock feel with the dreamy guitar solos infused with the punk attitude. The vibe of the song is raw and spontaneous, like they weren’t sure if they were going to make the song at all.

The best track here is probably “Love Hate.” The surf rock/punk rock infused sound comes to the forefront here. The music is really upbeat and makes you want to jump around. With the distorted guitars it really does manage to sound like a classic punk track from the ’80s. It just has that feel good vibe to it and as Stewart sings “Love hate, love hate” you can picture him running around the stage. The closing track “Bitch, this Ain’t LA” is another strong track. With a guitar riff that runs up and down the neck and the sole, cocky lyric of “Bitch, this ain’t LA” this is the band’s punk rock anthem. Something about it is so fun and energetic. Even though the same line is repeated throughout the song, you feel like it’s meant to be a dig at someone. Midway through, the pace slows down allowing Shultz’s under-water guitar sound to shine before the pace slowly builds back up. It’s great track that shows the band adapting a unique sound.

Overall, the EP gets 8/10. It’s a really promising effort from the band and one that makes you excited for a full length album. While they do share some similarities with Cage the Elephant, they try really hard to create their own chaotic, nosy sound. By the time they’re ready to release their next effort hopefully they’ll fully develop their sound, so they can escape from Cage the Elephant’s shadow. If you love snotty punk rock with lots and lots of noise, check out Plastic Visions. Hopefully, they’ll be the next big thing in rock very soon.