Monday, July 31, 2017

Israel Kamakawiwoʻole - Over The Rainbow / What A Wonderful World

Artist: Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
Song:  Over The Rainbow / What A Wonderful World
Album:  Unforgettable
Genre:  Folk

We're gonna take a second from the mini series I'm running to talk about me for a second.

I don't do too many of these, but I think we're way past due for an update into my life, especially since I've got a lot of changes going down.

For the last 5 years I've worked for Chick-fil-A.  Say what you will about the owners beliefs, but they are a fantastic company to work for.  I made some of my best friends there and learned a lot.  I worked my way up from a part time evening worker, to a full time opener, to a shift leader, and finally these last 8 months I've been the closing kitchen manager.  You know, your typical rags to riches story, but actually nothing like that.

In this time there's been good times and bad, stress and smooth work days.  In the time I was there our store increased in sales by a solid 250% from when I started till now.  All of us put in our time and energy and it was a blast to see the business soar while we all worked toward it.

The two guys here on the left are Nick and Kyle from left to right.  I met Nick on my first night and I met Kyle on my second night.  These two are the only ones left from my original kitchen crew.  There's a couple people from the front still around, and there's a few leaders too, but as far as the people I worked the trenches with these two are it.

Un-pictured are so many people, but I'd love to make a shout out to Kelsey and Jozy.  Jozy was there before me, but he went back to school like, the day before I started.  Kelsey started maybe 2 weeks after I did and I actually got to train her on a couple spots.  She quickly moved past where I was though cause she was driven and I was just kinda there for the ride at first.

Jozy and Kelsey are currently the Back of House directors, with Jozy specializing in scheduling & inventory and Kelsey with employee morale.  They turned out to be some of my favorite people at the store and I'm probably gonna miss working with them the most.

Still though, it's time for me to move to a different field.  I didn't really want to stay in food service anymore, and since I'm going to Toni & Guy in the fall to become a barber I finally have a new direction to try out.  It's good to have a goal again.

Here, have a sappy, sentimental, clichéd song.  It's fantastic.

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rammstein - Keine Lust

Band:  Rammstein
Song:  Keine Lust
Album:  Reise, Reise
Genre:  Industrial Metal

Now you can't just give solo artists the big ups.  There are some bands that really manage to put on straight up fantastic shows, one of them being Rammstein.

Their music is such a weird art, and their videos and live show only help that whole image.  This song for example is about extreme excess, and how it leaves you dead and senseless eventually.  The video shows this by having them all be incredibly overweight and waited on by beautiful women that they just don't have the time for.  The title of the song translates literally to "Do not feel like" or, I don't feel like it.

They really shine in their live shows though.  With fire, explosions, lights, and humiliation, they manage to transcend a standard performance and turn it into a whole new piece of art.  One of my favorite examples of that is their show at Madison Square Gardens.  Check out this one, Till, the singer, get's elevated a good 20 to 30 feet up with no saftey gear and shoots off pyrotechnics while he's up there.  The whole band has their routine that happens each show and it never fails to disappoint.  Probably the best part is that they manage to play the music really close to the albums, if not better.

Side note, I'm not sure if their mics do this in the live video I picked, but the guitarists do backup vocals at some points and the mics lay down on the stage till they need them.  I think that's pretty slick honestly, keeps 'em from being a distraction from the main show till they rise dramatically, then they go away again till the next time.

Any band that can manage to sound just like their albums when they play live are winners in my book, and Rammstein in that regard has earned a bit of your time.  Be sure to check 'em out.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

Artist:  Michael Jackson
Song:  Billie Jean
Album:  Thriller
Genre:  Pop

I would be remiss if I were to talk about fantastic live acts without mentioning the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

The dude didn't have that title for nothing after all, he was a fantastic singer, songwriter, and dancer.  You can't try to tell me that he didn't help define a generation of music, ya know?

This is one of his songs I'm more familiar with, so I did pick it.  However, if you want to see an amazing live show, check out this clip here.  I'm pumped man, I'm finding all kinds of dope live shows doing this.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

P!nk - Just Like Fire

Artist:  P!nk
Song:  Just Like Fire
Album:  Alive Through The Looking Glass Soundtrack
Genre:  Pop

So I have a bit of a project I'm working on for another connected string of posts, but I want to make sure I actually do them justice, so there might be a couple iffy posts on the in between.

For the next few days I'm gonna be posting artists who are not only impressive vocally, but also amazing at putting on a stage show.

Honestly, I should be shot if I didn't decide to include P!nk on this list.  Outside of just being a straight up amazing vocalist she's managed to keep up a fantastic stage show for years.  Like, she's crazy acrobatic at her live shows.  Peep the link here and skip about halfway through to watch her singing, not missing a note, while upside down and also flipping around.  Freaking heck man, how do you even do that.  Pisses me off.

I had no clue how many songs of hers I had heard a lot before till I looked through some of her hits tonight picking this one.  Like, I know a lot more of her songs than I thought I did.  Dude.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wovenwar - Matter Of Time

Band:  Wovenwar
Song:  Matter Of Time
Album:  Wovenwar
Genre:  Metal

I feel like this is the best band to follow up after As I Lay Dying for a reasonably solid reason.  The band is literally all of As I Lay Dying with the clean singer from O Sleeper.

After the whole "I wanna murder my wife" thing, As I Lay Dying is on hiatus essentially indefinitely.  Tim has managed to burn bridges pretty heavily with the rest of the group, so they went off and made a new group.  That group is Wovenwar.

Another band that my brother has tried to show me many times, Wovenwar is one of the most solid bands I've heard recently.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good their music sounds.  AILD isn't exactly the best sounding band, but WW has such solid guitar tones, I have no idea how it's the same musicians.  But hey, nothing to be sad about there, we get a fantastic group out of it.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

As I Lay Dying - The Sound Of Truth

Band:  As I Lay Dying
Song:  The Sound Of Truth
Album:  An Ocean Between Us
Genre:  Metalcore

Basically my favorite band /s in the Christian Metal circuit because of the crazy story that came out of it.  This is probably a perfect example of me loving terrible things cause there's jokes to be made, but since nobody died it's all good, right?

Actually the face that nobody died is the best part of the story.  Tim Lambesis was the vocalist for AS I Lay Dying and, outside of the drummer, the only one that was there the whole time.  There's so much great stuff to read about Tim.  Like how he used to pray with kids at shows, and how he used to try and help people with their struggles, and how he tried to take out a hit on his wife.

That right there is my favorite part of the saga of As I Lay Dying.  If it was just the singers fall from religion to atheism I wouldn't be nearly as amused.  If it was about his struggles with steroids I would be bored to death.  But this is about how he lost his faith, became dependant on steroids to get in better shape, and then asked his drug dealer to hook him up with a hitman to get rid of his wife.  WOO.  What a ride.

I was reading interviews that Tim gave from house arrest when the whole thing went down and I've gotta say, it was a blast.  He was trashing the other band members for not reaching out to him (can you blame them?) and claiming that everybody in the band were atheists anyway so they had no room to judge (the band took great offence to this statement).  Apparently when he reached out to his dealer for a hitman the dude went running to the cops and turned him in.  See, Tim was having issues divorcing his wife and decided in his permanently jetlagged state that he just needed to have her killed.  His dealer setup a sting and got him arrested when he straight up said "Yes, I want you to kill my wife" to the "hitman" who turned out to be a federal agent.

Like, I was never the biggest fan of the band in the first place, bu after all this went down I couldn't help but check them out again.  I still don't think they're that great, but man, you can't knock a story like this, right?  I'm butchering it though, so I really advise you check into it yourself, it's a blast.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Die Antwoord - I Fink U Freeky

Band:  Die Antwoord
Song:  I Fink U Freeky
Album:  Ten$ion
Genre:  Rap Rave
Language:  Strong

Hey, since I did the christian music thing for like, 6 or so days I figured I need to go straight in the other direction to even things out, right?  I could do some satanic band or something, but I kinda like the psychotic party atmosphere of Die Antwoord as my switch up instead.

I mean, their music is really catchy and their videos are really weird works of art, so it's not like I'm giving you garbage.  This is all hella high class garbage instead.

I dunno, it's not as good a video as some of their other ones, but it's one of the songs I like the most, so that counts for a bit.  If you wanna watch a video about a party that goes bad rather than this weird black and white thing, here's a different one, eh?  Also good.  I freaking love these guy's videos, they're so freaking great.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Magic Sword - In The Face Of Evil

Band:  Magic Sword
Song:  In The Face Of Evil
Album:  Volume 1 (also the Hotline Miami 2 Soundtrack)
Genre:  Synthwave

Saturday night, rather than try and sleep in the 6 hours between Saturday evening and Sunday morning jobs, I was on Reddit.  One of the things that got posted was the new Thor trailer and, honestly, I'm rather pumped about it.  I'm glad they finally stopped trying to take Thor too seriously, because I really wasn't a huge fan of the first movies.  This one is really fun looking, check it out here.

But while I was watching it there was something that bugged me.  I knew that I knew the synth line they have in the opening, but I couldn't think of where.  As the trailer went on though I heard the higher synth part rather than just the hit that was used in the beginning and I realized it was one of the Hotline Miami songs that I liked a lot.

Took me a second to figure out which one it actually was, but hey, I managed to find it!  If you like this kind of music I heavily advise you check out the rest of the soundtrack to the game, it's a fantastic selection of music.  I'll link a YouTube playlist and a Spotify playlist here, take some time to enjoy it.  It's all music much in the same vein, and possible some of my favorite music.

Quick trivia about Magic Sword, it's 3 guys who dress in masks and robes for their performances to obscure their identities.  I'm a sucker for a good stage show, so this amuses the crap out of me.  It's the same reason I like Ghost, Slipknot, Mushroomhead, Starset, and anybody else who puts on a full identity for their show.  Always a blast.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Project 86 - My Will Be A Dead Man

Band:  Project 86 (P86)
Song:  My Will Be A Dead Man
Album:  And The Rest Will Follow
Genre:  Post Hardcore

Sometimes bands aren't ignored because they are too "edgy" for the Christian community, sometimes it's because they're not obvious enough.  Project 86 are like, the king of metaphors and such.

I was gonna continue the whole issues I have with the Christian community hating on Metal music, but I'm don't have any more annoyance about it.  Though I still have issues with how angry some people I know get about Christian bands touring in "non-christian" settings.  Like when Flyleaf was playing in Vegas for a little bit.  Look into that, Lacey had a great quote on it.  Instead of my agenda though I'm just gonna go back to pointing you toward songs I like a lot and some trivia.

Project 86 was touring with Linkin Park back when they were both smaller.  Linkin Park however managed to land getting the main song in the Transformers movie and it helped boost them to the superstar status that they're at now.  Unfortunately as many of you know, Chester Bennington died on the 20th, it's something that hit a lot of people really hard.  I feel bad because I never really listened to Linkin Park so I don't really relate to the whole situation in the same way a lot of my friends do, but I can't deny that the dude had a fantastic voice and that the scene is going to hurt without him

So yeah, here's a song about struggling with your own head, which I had picked before Chester died.  I feel like it's oddly appropriate though.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Red - Release The Panic

Band:  Red
Song:  Release The Panic
Album:  Release The Panic
Genre:  Hard Rock

Heads up, this post is bugged out and I don't know why.

So to be fair, a couple of the bands I've posted in this whole stretch are now broken up or mostly inactive.  Impending Doom hasn't done anything for a few years up till the last 8 months or so leading to this new album, Sleeping Giant is mostly inactive, and Haste The Day broke up, reunited, and broke up again.  This has nothing to do with my agenda laden points I've been dropping, I just wanted to give y'all fair warning that if you like these guys you can't catch them live for the most part.

You can catch Red though, and you can catch them at all sorts of events too.  For example, they just finished a tour with Breaking Benjamin.  "Wait" I hear you say, "Breaking Benjamin is a Christian band?"

No.  And a load of people gave Red crap about touring with a *gasp* secular artist.  The same people that gave Head a lot of crap when he re joined Korn, the same people who crapped on Flyleaf for touring with Drowning Pool, and the same people that gave Demon Hunter crap for playing at a festival that wasn't exclusively Christian.

A post shared by Demon Hunter (@demonhunter) on
Oh the horror.  (in case this doesn't show, it's the concert lineup that Demon Hunter posted on instagram.)

That brings me to another point I've neglected to this point a little, but I'll talk about it tomorrow.

Enjoy one of my favorite Red songs.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sleeping Giant - Clutches

Band:  Sleeping Giant
Song:  Clutches
Album:  Finished People
Genre:  Hardcore

Oh hey, it's a song that's rather similar to the point I was trying to make yesterday.

I have a lot of people tell me on a very regular basis that I'm not allowed to listen to secular Metal.  I personally greatly disagree with this a lot, but I can see where people are coming from with it.

Let's say your lifestyle was all about music, but you were into really nasty stuff like, the extreme Black Metal scene.  I would in that situation advise you to stop listening to that stuff, it's not gonna help you out at all.  But at the same time I am also going to be peeved if you try to tell me that I, with no past problems with the situation, need to stop listening to Metal in general because it's "satanic".

It's like the whole alcohol argument.  I'm not going to stop enjoying a drink from time to time because there's people in the world that struggle with it.  Not to be all "That's not my problem", but I can't be held accountable for everybody in the world.

It's the same deal with music.  I can't be held accountable for other people having a bad past with the stuff, I just need to be sensitive when I'm around them that it's a part of their life they need to put behind them.

All that to say though, that's not a valid reason to have all white labeled Christian tunes be the same mediocre genre.  We have a local radio station that plays CCM almost exclusively.  They are one of the more popular stations in town, but they are also the only Christian station so they kinda win by default for a lot of people.  People get scared away when they think that's the life they get locked into.  You know the image, block color polos and khakis, all the music is played on airy synths and sung by vocalists who are using almost exclusively their upper range, and all fun is cut out of your life.  Not true, but stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.

So here's another solid Christian band to help break that mold.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sent By Ravens - We're All Liars

Band:  Sent By Ravens
Song:  We're All Liars
Album:  Mean What You Say
Genre:  Hard Rock

One of the things that bugs me about pandering lyrics is that they don't usually have anything hard to say.  That's a bit of a generational thing to be fair.  Gen Z (about 20 and younger) all really want things to be raw and open and that's just not something that people really enjoyed as much before this.

Before I get a mountain of my church peeps linking me to all those articles I see them share about how Millennials need to stop church bashing, that's not what this post is about, even if it sounds like it.  I love most of my church community, and as such I'm more critical of things I love than I am of things I hate.  I'm human, sue me.

There's always songs here and there about not forgetting the people that you might not notice.  While I'm sure a lot of people have their eyes opened by stuff like this, there's a lot of people legitimately hurt by overly judgemental Church folks.  I for example am a 6ft tall guy with a shaved head and tattoos who wears a lot of black.  I don't get the nicest looks everywhere I go, and at this point I'm kinda resigned to it.  People don't notice subtle judgement like that though, it's just one of those things we do without really thinking about it.  I know I'm guilty of it from time to time too.

And there's a lot of songs about people doing that too.  Plenty of songs about that.  There's not as many Christian songs about it though, and that's one of the things that bugs me.  Granted, we need to display as united a front as possible and don't want to advertise we've got issues, but some people need to wake up to the fact that what seems like casual normal things to them actively push others out.

This song is about a guy who was hurt by the church.  As the song goes on the realization is made not only are people fallible, but there's accountability on both sides, yours included.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Haste The Day - Fallen

Band:  Haste The Day
Song:  Fallen
Album:  When Everything Falls
Genre:  Hardcore

One thing that tends to drive me crazy is when Christian bands constantly pander to their audience with church phrases and sayings.  You can single bands out pretty easily that musically might stand apart, but then once the singing starts you hear those church/bible phrases that immediately label a band really harshly.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing.  The reason Christian Contemporary Music is a genre at all is because there's so many bands that do this.  It's turned it into a whole thing and it's great for people who like that.  Not me, but I'm not about to write off an entire genre because I don't like their imagery.

Here's the issue though.  When that's the only style of music available you're going to have issues.  Me for example.  If I was a new believer one thing I'd really chafe at would be a lack of music for me to get into.  Music, as I'm sure y'all might have noticed, is a big deal to me.  If I came in and found that not only am I being told I have to give up all my old music (totally separate issue there) but that all I have to replace it is Casting Crowns, Aaron Shust, and Jeremy Camp I'd have some issues to address right quick.

Just cause a band has the religious label attached to them doesn't mean they need to be less good than their secular counterpart.  I know a lot of this is because people aren't familiar with a lot of what to give people to listen to, but I'm gonna make it a minor mission to let people know where to find the good Christian Metal stuff.

If you are of a religious background and don't believe me, go ahead and check the lyrics for the songs I'm posting during this whole rant week I'm on, please.  They're all pretty solid.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Impending Doom - Death. Ascension. Resurrection.

Band:  Impending Doom
Song:  Death. Ascension. Resurrection.
Album:  Baptised In Filth
Genre:  Deathcore

Here's the best way for a Christian band to do well though, do they know what genre they are playing?

There's a lot of Christian acts that don't know where their sound is supposed to be.  Like, I would be pissed if I went to see an Impending Doom show and it turned into a conventional worship set.  I'd love to hear it happen cause I feel like they'd have a really cool take on a lot of the music, but at the same time that's not what I paid to see.

This isn't really an issue in the Christian Metal community, but a lot of the Rock acts will sometimes slip stuff like that in.  I'm reasonably convinced that there will never really be any good Christian Rock because of stuff like this.  There's a huge difference between a whorship act and a Rock act, and those boundries need to be respected for a band to be a solid crossover.

In the Hardcore community there's basically no cares about whether a band is religious or not.  The fans are solidly of the opinion that if the music is good they'll be happy.

Look at Impending Doom again as my example.  Their lyrics are incredibly obviously religious from the very beginning, but since musically they are one of the titans of Deathcore nobody really cares.

The musical quality majorly affects how I judge the band.  For the most part Christian Rock can be picked out of a lineup really easily, so anything that helps separate them from the masses is a win in my book.

On the band though, they're almost done recording a new album and I'm really freaking pumped.  I have their logo tattooed into my skin, so you could say I'm a bit of a fan.  It's supposed to drop this year, so look out for an album review of that one for sure.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Demon Hunter - Crucifix

Band:  Demon Hunter
Song:  Crucifix
Album:  True Defiance
Genre:  Metalcore

Gonna do a switch up on music for a little bit.  For the next few weeks I'm only going to post Christian artists that I find to be actually good.

I feel I have made it very clear that I generally despise Christian media since the whole trend of settling for a slightly lesser product started strong in the 80s and 90s and is only starting to change recently.

One of the criteria I judge by is whether the group is a crossover success into the secular music scene.  If a band manages to please both audiences they generally are a really solid act.  There's opinion based objections to that rule of course, but all in all it's a solid rule of thumb.

One of the things that can keep a really solid Christian artist from being a solid crossover act is how open they are about their faith.  Skillet is a solid example of stradleing the line.  Their live shows are very obviously Christian events, but their music is solidly middle of the road enough to give them a fan base that spans both sides of the line rather nicly.

After that a lot of my sentiments are more opinion based, but I'll give you one tomorrow that'll offer a different option.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Disciple - 321

Band:  Disciple
Song:  321
Album:  Southern Hospitality
Genre:  Southern Rock

Apparently when I first started listening to Disciple I was listening to the wrong stuff.  This is the album I had access to first and honestly, I wasn't too thrilled with it.  All in all it was ok, but it didn't grab my attention the same way the other music I was given at the time was.  Demon Hunter, Haste The Day, and Impending Doom managed to majorly beat these guys out.

Now my brother is way into Disciple though and directed me toward some of their better tunes.  I'm finally actually starting to listen to them and I'm rather happy I've finally made the effort to do so.  They're a solid group that I'd advise you check out.  If you don't know where to start, check their newest album, Long Live The Rebels.

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