Music

Material – Blaqk Audio

Release Year: 2016

Rating: 8.5/10

Blaqk Audio is the synth and electronic based side project of AFI’s Davey Havok and Jade Puget. Moving away from punk rock, the duo explore lush beats, swirling rhythms, and hard hitting synth. They’re not doing anything completely unique with the genre, but they work with it well. Their debut album, Cexcells, was solid, but their follow up Bright Black Heaven seemed more or less the same. How does their long awaited third release hold up?

With this album Blaqk Audio doesn’t take any risks and sticks with their well worn formula of electronic and sythpop infused songs. This doesn’t necessarily make the album bad, but there’s very little about it that catches your attention the first time you listen to it. That’s because so much of the record sounds familiar or too similar to their past efforts. The dark nature of “Black at the Center” and the way Havok wails “I’m helpless/am I’m freezing” brings up similarities to “Ill-Lit Ships.” The rapid and catchy “First to Love” seems to continue the 80s, New Order vibe found on many of their other songs. And “I’m a Mess” uses the synth/piano format they seem to admire.

Despite this, there are some stand out tracks on the album. One of the best is “Curious Friends,” which starts with cold, futuristic music out of an 8-bit game. Havok sings in a robotic manner giving this feeling of isolation. The song amps up during the ear worm hook of “Does he tell that he loves you/like you do” and turns into more of a dance song. Everything about it is so satisfying it grabs your attention right away. The opening track “Waiting to Be Told” is another highlight. It continues the dark mood of the record with harsh, throbbing electronic beats opening the song. It’s one of the most intense on the album.

To Be Alone” has this great slow build up where the beat pluses and throbs while Havok softly sings. The track comes alive as things get more intense with eerie ambient noises sounding like other worldly moaning. Again, like other songs here it does sound like one of their previous tracks, but it still grabs your attention. “Material” is more of a forgettable song. The music and style is actually reminiscent of New Order’s “Blue Monday” and it’s not the first time their influence pops up on the record. It’s not a bad song, it’ll still get you moving. It’s just buried underneath the stronger tracks.

For some reason Blaqk Audio like having one super upbeat, poppy dance song on their albums and unfortunately, here is no different. Don’t be fooled by the name, “Graphic Violence” is the complete opposite of its brutal sounding title. The whole thing is really bright and sickeningly sugary sweet. It sounds like something that would play on a teen show on Nickelodeon. You picture pink splashes and lots of hearts when you hear it. It is slightly catchy, so it has potential to grow on you, but it sticks out on the album and doesn’t warrant itself for repeated listens.

The album hits a low point towards the end with generic sounding tracks “You Will Hate Me” and “Ceremonial.” On both songs, the mood shifts to upbeat dance music better suited for a Rihanna song. Rather than being stark, dark, and heavy hitting, the music is everything you currently hear on pop radio. Though they can be catchy at times, both of the songs are pretty bland and are filler more than anything. Luckily, the closing track “Anointed” ends the album on a high note. Though it doesn’t stray too far from what we’ve already heard on the album, it does add dirty guitars giving it more of a rock edge than the other tracks. There’s also an air of mystery and sensuality that makes it appealing. It manages to be another stand out track on the record.

With Blaqk Audio Puget and Havok show how versatile they are with music. They easily move out of their comfort zone to play around with something new. The problem is this album, just like their last one, sounds so similar to what they’ve already done. They even address the same themes of love, sex, and loneliness. You don’t expect them to do something so drastic it doesn’t even sound like them. Rather, you’d hope they’d find someway to make the album stand out from their others. Material is still another solid entry in their catalog with more irresistible songs. But since it’s so similar to their other stuff, it may take a few listens for the album to take. Still, it’s great to hear from Blaqk Audio again.

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Four Years Blogging and There’s Still so Much to Say

Believe it or not I’ve been blogging now for four years. I missed the anniversary almost a month ago thanks to a mass workload, but I wanted to take a minute to address it along with why I started the site in the first place. When I started this site I didn’t have any disillusions about becoming internet famous or getting popular so fast publishers were trying to give book deals. I wasn’t even trying to make money. I was a fresh graduate with a lot of free time who wanted to talk about music. I wanted to learn why I loved and cherished certain music and detested others. My friends didn’t care about my thoughts on the latest Green Day album or whether or not the latest Nirvana re-release was actually worth it. So, I decided to share my thoughts online and hoped at least one other person would be interested enough to follow my ramblings and opinions.

Also, I hate most reviews by major magazines. They’re often written by people who don’t like a certain artist in the first place. They use a lot of fucked up metaphors that may sound good, but do shit all when trying to convey if an album is good or not. I wanted my reviews to be straight forward, yet detailed. If I hated a song I wanted to to express just what it was that made it so bad. Doing this also helped me expand my tastes and find new artists to obsess over. I also figure out which albums I’ve been ignoring for way too long.

Most of all I just wanted to have fun and listen to music everyday. It sucks that I don’t have as much time as I used to to dedicate to the site because I have other writing duties, but I still try to make time. I don’t need fame or recognition to keep me going. I’m just happy when someone drops me a comment saying they enjoyed a review. Even if they don’t agree with what I said I like exchanging different views with other music fans. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how many followers I’d get when I started this four years ago. Now, there are over 100 of you following and I can’t thank you enough. Even though I started the blog for me, I don’t think I would’ve kept it going for this long if no one was interested. For followers new and old, or anyone who has stopped by for one article, thank you for taking time out of your day and reading my stuff. Hopefully, I’ve helped a few of you find some new albums or artists to check out. The site can’t go on forever, but as long as I keep being a music nerd and people still put up with my rants, I’ll keep the blog going for as long as I can.

Here’s to another year blogging.

Around the Fur – Deftones

Release Year: 1997

Rating: 7.5/10

Though Deftones released their debut in 1995, it wasn’t until their second album they started to gain recognition. This record has some of their biggest hits and is often hailed as one of the best of the 90s. I always heard it was really good, so I wanted to check it out. With a gritty sound, aggressive riffs, and intense vocals, the album is more brutal than you think. It shows the Deftones are way heavier than you might expect. Though there are some hiccups, most of the tracks are aggressive and somewhat violent enough to lose your mind too.

Of course things start off with their most well known song “My Own Summer (Shove It).” This is still one of my favorites by them. The dirty, gritty riff pulls you in with its hypnotizing loop, while singer Chino Moreno lures you into a safe space with soft, soothing vocals. It’s not until the chorus that this feeling is shattered. All hell breaks loose as Moreno screams at the top of his lungs and the music grows more aggressive. Everything explodes punching you in the gut. This intense mood keeps going on “Lhabia,” which sounds sinister and evil. The gritty, grungy music makes a return, but it’s the whispering vocals that get under your skin. It’s another heavy track that’s also a highlight of the record. Things get unnerving on “Dai the Flu.” While it’s full of harsh guitars and a brutal assault on the music, it’s the menacing, lowkey aspect of the vocals that makes it so creepy. Moreno sounds broken and unstable as he sings “dislocated at the joint timing is everything in the bed/’cause you’ll sleep for hours to keep away/then sink the teeth and bat your eyes.” You can barely make out what he’s saying, which makes the whole thing a bit unsettling.

Most of the songs follow the same format: “Mascara,” “Around the Fur,” and “Lotion” all are intense and aggressive with their sound. They all also find Moreno using the quiet/loud/quiet dynamic when it comes to singing. While none of the songs are bad, the heavy music gets a bit repetitive after a while. The fuzzy guitars, thudding drums, and all the screams start to make all the songs meld together. The band rarely switches things up and when they do, it’s not often enough. One of the tracks that finds them changing up the sound is “Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away).” Rather than being in your face and aggressive, the music here is a bit faster and lighter than before. It’s as if the listener is finally getting a break from the previous musical assault. “Headup” finds another sonic change as the music has an underlying groove mixed in with the heavy, gritty sound. Moreno also switches up the vocal style as it sounds like he’s rapping. These tracks show what else Deftones are capable of, something they take advantage on their later releases.

If there’s anything you can say about the album is it shows how Moreno is an underappreciated vocalist. People often talk about Corey Taylor‘s ability to sound sweet and tortured in the same song. Moreno does the same thing. On tracks like “Rickets” and “MX” he plays with that dynamic. His singing is often soft and mellow, but out of nowhere he can strain his vocals to let out painful screams, shrieks, and wails. He has an impressive range that I don’t see many talk about. He manages to sound violent, harsh, and fucking mental when he yells at the top of his lungs , but just as fast as it came on, it’s suddenly lowkey, sometimes barely above a whisper. He’s a talented vocalist that doesn’t get enough recognition.

Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. The album is heavy as hell, which both works for and against it. Many of the songs are aggressive, intense, and even a bit disturbing. But since the band doesn’t switch up the sound enough, many of the songs end up sounding the same dulling the record a bit. While there are a couple of tracks where they explore different genres, it doesn’t come up nearly enough. Still, the album shows why Deftones are a great alternative rock band.

Interesting Royal Blood Facts and Pictures

Royal Blood came out swinging last year with their self-titled debut that caught the attention of rock fans. Since then, they’re on their way up to become one of the most popular and notable acts in rock music. They’re currently gearing up for a massive tour, so we shouldn’t expect new music from them anytime soon, so let’s take this chance to learn a bit more about this UK duo.

The song “You Can be so Cruel” was written while singer Mike Kerr was drunk. Of course he doesn’t remember it.

The band formed in a span of a week. They rehearsed once and had their first gig soon after in front of their family and friends

Ben Thatcher has admitted the first albums he bought were Spice Girls, 5ive, and Backstreet Boys. His favorite Spice Girl song? “2 Become 1”

While playing their first gigs, Thatcher worked in a pub and taught drums in a school. Kerr was a chef studying hospitality at Northbrook college.

Muse are big fans. Matt Bellamy approached the band at the Brit Awards and admitted how much he liked their music. Interestingly enough, Muse was an early influence on Royal Blood

Despite what you hear, there are no guitars on their songs. As they explained: “We just filled a room with four or five amplifiers, all on full and all having a different sound, and at the other end was just one bass”, says Kerr

Kerr was previously a member of British rock band Hunting the Minotau

The closing track “Better Strangers” was named after a line from the Shakespeare play As You like It

The animated music video for “Out of the Black” was directed by Christy Karacas, who is also the co-creator of Adult Swim show Superjail!

Their debut album was verified by the Official Charts Company as the fastest selling British rock debut in three years in the UK

Thatcher and Lars Ulrich of Metallica visited the house where Mrs. Doubtfire was filmed together

Three years running!

This blog has been up and running for three years. Three years! So, the anniversary was last week, but I still wanted to address it. When I first started the blog I wasn’t sure how long it was going to last. I wasn’t sure if it was even going to make it past a year. I just wanted to share my thoughts on music and was surprised that people were interested.It’s great to know people are still interested. And now it’s still going strong thank to all of you out there! Thank you to the long time followers, the newbies, and anyone who stops by just to check things out. Without your support and comments I don’t know if I could keep this blog going. Thanks for sharing my obsession and listening to my crazy rants on music. You guys are amazing! And I just wanted to say

THANK YOU!

Here’s to another great year!