Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Die Antwoord - Banana Brain

Band:  Die Antwoord
Song:  Banana Brain
Album:  Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid
Genre:  Rap Rave
Language:  Strong

So first things first, I was on the radio yesterday.  This was honestly one of my life goals, and the fact that I got to do it with two good friends of mine just made it all the better.  Ideally I'll even be able to get in on some more of these.  My friend has her show every monday at 4 and really it's something I feel like I could get used to being a part of, ya know?  She did invite me back, so I plan to take her up on that offer whenever I can manage to.

But yeah, here's some music, eh?

Once again, one of my favorite art acts.  Everything these guys do just is so well performed I don't even know what to say.  Like, this video is a beautiful bad trip going on with all the black lights and stuff, there's nothing I don't like about it.

And musically it's nice and braindead for me to listen to.  These guys make some of my favorite music to keep me active while simultaneously having zero content to it.  It's gorgeous.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Fractionally Human - Oh, The Places You'll Die

Band:  Fractionally Human
Song:  Oh, The Places You'll Die
Album:  Oh, The Places You'll Die (single, 2017)
Genre:  Grind
Bandcamp:  Fractionally Human

So I really don't like going too deep on this blog, so I figured I'd swing it way back around and post a very special band that I love a lot.

My band.

Fractionally Human is a project of myself and my brother that is intentionally sloppy dumb fun Grind music.  Some tracks are more "grindy" than others and others touch in the Deathcore field, but all in all it's a theme we try to stick with.  I'm vocalist, bassist, and drum programer, and Jeff plays all the guitars and sometimes bass as well, in addition to the higher vocals.

Now while I talked yesterday about paying attention to lyrics in case it's somebody trying to reach out for help, I assure you there is absolutely zero substance to the lyrics of Fractionally Human.  In fact, we intentionally make everything as gibberish as possible.  Example, right now we're working on a couple songs about a walrus with a god complex.

This song though is all from Dr Seuss.  I don't remember what we were going to do initially, but over the course of an afternoon we knocked out this song with only very minor changes to the original text.

For real, I love this noise so much.  It's all fun to make, it burns out in less than 2 minutes on the average, and in my mind even if you hate a style of music that's short enough to listen a little, right?

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Linkin Park - One More Light

Band:  Linkin Park
Song:  On More Light
Album:  One More Light
Genre:  Rock

I've been wanting to touch on this topic for a little while now, and since a lot of people in my newsfeed have been talking about mental health recently I figured now's as good a time as any.

I feel like I touched on people who sing about mad drug usage in the past.  Like back when I last posted Alice In Chains maybe.  Anyway, what I had said then is basically people really have no right to be shocked when somebody dies from drug use when half their music is about how, in the case of Layne Staley, they do heroine and they are depressed.  Not that people who sing about drugs and depression are always consciously asking for help, but there's something about what they're doing that makes them write lyrics about that, right?

Chester Bennington is a victim of the same kind of mentality.

For years he'd been singing progressively more subdued manner.  I mean obviously in interviews he said he was doing better, and I honestly believe that's what he thought too.  I don't think he was lying or anything, but at the same time I think he knew he wasn't as good as he needed to be.  I'm thinking though that he was committed to trying to help people, and that's what makes it rougher.  Songs like One More Light here give the dialogue of him saying he cares about your problems and wants to help you.  Right?  But then same album, you have songs like Heavy that are not only really heavy songs (no pun intended), but also have a really intense video.

This is a guy who was really trying to hold it all together for both his friends, fans, and family, but still gave in.  A man with the entire world to live for, who was tricked by his head into thinking that he had nothing left.  A man committed to bettering his own life and the lives of others and was, by all outward appearances, doing fine.

Stuff like this makes me wonder what I can do to help people cause in their own heads like this.  Like, it's way outside my comfort zone to do literally anything that talks about it, but this is a problem that needs to be addressed more than people just saying "oh, it's all just in your head, you need to get over it."  Things are a lot more open than they used to be with both the internet age making everything much more easy to access, but there's still this stigma about not talking about depression openly because, frankly, it's awkward and uncomfortable.  Depressed people don't want to be judged by friends and family and the average bystander doesn't want to be reminded that 11% of people under the age of 18 and 10% of people 65+ suffer from some sort of depression.

Just think about it from time to time.  Be less of a shit person to retail workers and people who work with and for you.  Don't be a dick in traffic.  Just do some sort of thing to make the world less of a trash place and, if you find somebody who needs help getting out of their head, don't put them down.  Just listen and help.

There, I'm off my high horse for a bit, we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

2nd Interview with Johnny Crowder, vocalist of Dark Sermon and Prison

Band:  Prison
Song:  The Knife and The Dying Dream
Album:  N.G.R.I. (2017)
Genre:  Nu-Metal, Metalcore
Johnny's Website:  notatherapist.com

As I mentioned yesterday, we're gonna talk about depression in the music industry really quick.  To start that, I really can't see any better person to interview than Johnny Crowder, the most outspoken

Q: With Chester Bennington having committed suicide I've been thinking lot about how depression is ignored in the music industry. I feel like a lot of people try not to think about it since a general thought seems to be that the best art comes from tortured performers.  Thoughts?

A.  I’ll try to keep this brief to prevent myself from going on a rant. Basically, my whole life, I thought that I was able to write music because I was so upset. But as I’ve gotten healthier over the years, I’ve realized that my illnesses only clouded my mind and my heart. They siphoned energy out of my creativity, and I didn’t know that a healthier lifestyle would lead to a more streamlined, fulfilling writing process. When you’re sick, you start to develop Stockholm Syndrome. You justify the way you are and say that you are more creative that way, without ever having seen the other side. When I was younger, I would have bet you money that my frustration helped me write. Now that I’m out of that darkness, I can clearly see that it only held me back.

Q: As an individual who is incredibly outspoken about your thoughts on mental illness, what was your initial take on it? 

A.  I cried. I don’t know what else to say. It didn’t feel like it was about me, though. I didn’t think, “That could be me.” I thought, “That could be any number of my friends who tour full time.” That’s what killed me. I loved Chester like a brother, and his death hit me harder than expected, considering we never met in person.

Q: Prison's purpose seems to be a unifying point for broken people to come together and become stronger through their problems. Would that be correct in your opinion? 

A.  Your illness, trauma, past, or anything else negative doesn’t have to define you. All of these things qualify us to minister to others and bring comfort to people who are struggling. Every single person has some serious stuff going on in some corner of their life, and I’m just trying to bust the stigma and get people to be real with themselves. You’re not perfect, so stop pretending you are. On the other hand, you’re not broken beyond repair, so stop pretending you are. We are all in the same boat, and we need to start acting like it.

Big thanks to Johnny for being so open for this.  I'm gonna do my take tomorrow, and hopefully a couple of my friends as well.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Album Review: NF - Perception

Artist:  NF
Album:  Perception
Release Date:  October 6th, 2017
Genre:  Rap, Hip Hop
Rating:  8.5/10

So yeah, the new NF album!  I don't follow NF nearly as close as I'd like to, so I actually had missed the release date for this album.  Thanks to creeping on my friends though, I saw one of them listening to the new album on Spotify and managed to catch up then.

So I've probably listened through the whole album like 4 times by now just kinda having it on in the background and I really don't have a complaint with it.  If I had to pick something I'd change, I would probably shuffle up his beats a little.  Because most of his beats end up sounding really similar all his albums have a very consistent sound.  Consistency isn't a bad thing by any means, but I don't love his beats in the same way I like some other people's, so I'd love a little bit of a changeup.

NF's music follows a trend that I love, depressed.  I don't mean to imply it's good to be a depressed artist (gonna be talking about that in a few days actually), but I personally enjoy melancholy music as a general rule.

The album follows some pretty traditional themes for NF.  There's a lot of anger and frustration at different things going on in his life which is a common theme in his music.  When he switches over to the more mellow songs though I'm a huge fan of what he's got going on.  The music behind them is really slick and I feel like he's managing to keep the same kind of emotion of his past albums.

Some of my personal favorite tracks are Intro III, Outcast, 10 Feet Down, Let You Down, Destiny, Remember This, and Outro.  Especially Intro III, it's narrative is really hard hitting and makes you think about what he's feeling.  Honestly that's what a lot of the album feels like.  He talks about struggling through the last year and it's told in a way that I would hope make people a little more open to the struggles of being an emotionally compromised person in a spotlight.  Maybe that's the wrong takeaway, but that's what I'm getting.

The other songs I just really love because they either go hard like Outcast and Destiny, or because they're just amazingly good like Let You Down.

I don't know why, but Let You Down is really rising up as my very favorite track of the album.  I like a lot of the other ones more initially, but the feelings behind this one just hit me.

I'm gonna go ahead and rate this 8.5/10.  Lyrically he's slick, but I would like a slight variation in some of his beats.  That's about my only thing though, and when it comes down to it that's not a big complaint at all.

Listen to it all the way through, it's only an hour of your day.  Spread that out a little and it's no time at all.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Future - Mask Off

Artist:  Future
Song:  Mask Off
Album:  Future (2017)
Genre:  Rap, Hip Hop
Language:  Strong

So another thing I really take the time to listen for in Rap songs would be the beat.  You really have no excuse in the era it is to have legitimately bad beats at this point since there's all the tools available to make music.

One person who I really love the beats of would be Future.  A lot of his stuff is produced by Metro Boomin' who is debatably the best Trap producer out there right now, so Future gets to ride some really smooth music.

Lyrically I get what he's going after too to a point.  I can't really relate to all his drug issues and such, but the man is clearly miserable.  All his music sounds like either a call for help or just being resigned to whatever life is for him.

Dude's mad single focused too.  He once said in an interview that when he tried to be a better father it hurt his music and that he'd never do that again.  I dunno man, he seems like the kind of guy that's trying to overcome his life crashing around him by hyperfocusing on what he can do well.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

DMX - Here We Go Again

Artist:  DMX (Dark Man X)
Song:  Here We Go Again
Album:  ...And Then There Was X (1999)
Genre:  Rap, Hip Hop
Language:  Strong

So first things first, my man X is in rehab and as of late September is doing really well with it.  Apparently he's acting like a real person again and is finally putting on weight again.  Aside from possibly getting 44 years for breaking parole and possibly tax evasion I actually have a chance of hearing X get a new album out.  Did you hear the new single he put out last year or so?  If I get an album of that it'd make my year.  It's so gritty.

Anyway though, let's talk about what I like about DMX.

When I go for rappers there's a couple things I end up liking them for.

  1. Flow.  I really love rappers who actually can string a really smooth line together.
  2. Lyrical complexity.  Unlike simply being able to string a line, this also includes having a vocabulary that means anything.  Guys that can rhyme mad words together and such.
  3. Emotion.  If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a rapper that can't make me feel their message.  I don't care what the message is, the music is stripped down so that the vocals are the main highlight, you need to convey that feeling.

Now as far as complexity goes, DMX isn't that great.  Checking out this chart that some wonderful man made, X ranks in last place on the chart in unique word count in all his music up to 2012.

Here though is what highlights what I love abou DMX though.  He drips raw emotion in his music.

Whether it's his aggression, his remorse, or just pure attitude, all of his music is saturated with raw emotion.  You really feel like you connect with an artist that straight up bares their soul, and I really feel like DMX does that.  There's a few lanes his songs fall into generally.  There's his remorseful songs, where he feels bad about his past.  Then there's the gang songs where he sings the praises of his violent lifestyle.

There's so much feeling in what he does though, and that's why he's always going to be one of my favorite rappers.  Feeling counts for a lot.

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