Category Archives: Opinions

Opinion: Does age matter?

There comes a certain point in life where retirement is inevitable.  Most civilians have to wait until their 60’s before they can even think about retiring from work.  Conversely, most major sport athletes are not expected to continue working past their 30’s or 40’s.  If only some well-established musicians decided to retire from music, fans would not have to turn away due to “washed-up” artists.

Of course, there are exceptions as with any other theory ever logically constructed. For instance, Paul McCartney will be 72 years young this June.  While he may be far past his “prime,” he continues to properly perform to his celebrity level standards, not to mention he put out a solid set of new material in the form of New in 2013.  With that said, his type of music does not require much movement to maintain an enjoyable concert atmosphere.  Sir Paul has also perfected his brand of stage presence without exerting too much energy on stage.  Considering his age, that is a key skill to possess.  No fan wants to see their favorite music idol drop dead on stage from a heart attack.

Continuing with that last point, it is only a matter of time before Ozzy Osbourne and the rest of the Sabbath gents permanently retire, willingly or not.  Ozzy aimlessly bounces around on stage, missing vocal notes and keys in almost every line while performing live.  The Prince of Darkness is not what he used to be, considering how much toxicity he has ingested over the years.  As for the others, Tony Iommi is currently fighting cancer. Geezer Butler seems to be healthy, at least in comparison to his band mates.  In terms of age, all three are in their 60’s and not getting any younger.  It is actually surprising how excellent 13 turned out.  That would be a phenomenal departure release once they complete this grueling world tour.

To clarify, I love Black Sabbath, but they are not honoring their legacy if they keep going until fate takes them.

Another example is The Rolling Stones.  Although they have not been in the limelight recently, that Super Bowl performance several years ago should never have happened. Old Mick Jagger prancing around in tights is a disturbing image burned into millions of viewers’ eyes for eternity.

While “washed-up” musicians may be ruining their respective legacies by continuing until they physically cannot, we should respect their wishes, as fans.  They won’t be around forever and if they don’t keep doing what they love, how will they keep busy? What would keep them wanting to live if not their lifelong passion?


Artist of the Week [4/20/13]: Boston

In light of the events in the city of Boston and its surrounding towns, the classic rock band of that title has been selected as this week’s “Artist of the Week.”  Although they lack a large repertoire, several of Boston’s song titles speak well in this situation.  The actual lyrical content of those songs may not necessarily fit perfectly, but bear with me.

Following the explosions at the Boston Marathon this past Monday, many people, visitors and residents alike, were severely injured, three of whom died.  It was a terrifying day as people outside the city attempted to reach their loved ones while all telephone service was turned off and Boston was on lockdown.  This awful day turned into a week full of varying emotions.  Identities of the people directly affected by the bombs were released.   There were many press conferences regarding the tragedy and its aftermath.  Eyes were peeled on the news as more details continued to arise each day.

Emotions heightened when FBI uncovered a surveillance video of two suspects.  Bostonians held their hopes high as all forms of law enforcement worked relentlessly to find the two Tsarnaev brothers.  Finally, on Friday evening, the younger brother, Dzhokhar, was found in a boat in a Watertown resident’s backyard.  Many people, especially Bostonians, rejoiced after hearing that “Suspect 2” was captured alive.  The news even showed a huge crowd partying near the State House.

While more information regarding the motives of this attack will hopefully be forced out through interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Bostonians and Americans elsewhere can be at a “Peace of Mind” for now.  This whole week offered “More Than A Feeling” and showed that perhaps there is a “Higher Power.”  It is a great thing that we can now “Cool The Engines” without too much “Foreplay/Long Time” having been involved.

For those who did not pick up on those last few sentences, those are Boston song titles cleverly worked into this situation.  The band Boston is best known for its self-titled debut album, released in 1976. Despite the band releasing a few more albums, Boston is the main effort that fans remember and cherish.  From start to finish, it can arguably be considered a masterpiece.  Almost all eight tracks have been played on commercial radio.  “More Than A Feeling” is the cliché Boston song that most music listeners know.

Like their contemporaries, Boston are not considered very relevant today, especially since lead singer Brad Delp died.  In 2007, Delp committed suicide by burning himself on charcoal. That was truly upsetting to hear for several reasons.  First, suicide should never be an option.  Life tends to act like a roller coaster.  As low as you may drop, you will eventually come back up.  Secondly, that is an extremely painful way to leave this world.  It is sad to learn that he felt the need to hurt himself that badly.  Lastly, he had a great singing voice which was one of the elements that set Boston apart.  That is probably a large reason that not many people seem to care about the band anymore.

With that said, if you are not familiar with 1976’s Boston, check it out.  All eight songs are focus tracks.


Cover Albums: Personalization Without Imitation

After performing amazing cover versions of songs like Joe Jackson’s “Got the Time” and Trust’s “Antisocial,” one would think thrash legends Anthrax would know a thing or two about doing covers.  That assumption is doubted by the band’s covers EP, Anthems.  While the instrumental portion of the band makes the songs heavier than their original versions, Joey Belladonna seems to weigh down their impact with his vocals.  That is not to say that Belladonna is a bad singer, because he’s not.  He has arguably one of the best voices in thrash metal, if not all of the metal sub-genres.  However, Anthems does not portray his unique vocal style.  Instead, he is found imitating each lead singer featured on the original songs.  For instance, on “Anthem,” originally performed by Rush, Belladonna distorts his voice into a very nasally falsetto to match Geddy Lee’s signature sound.  While that is probably the most obvious one, he does it with all the other songs on Anthems.

Unfortunately, Anthems sounds like something a classic rock tribute band would release, not an established thrash act simply performing some cover songs.  That is not the case with Adrenaline Mob’s Coverta, which was released a week earlier than Anthems, on March 12, 2013.  Coverta has Adrenaline Mob written all over it, despite the entire release being cover songs.

One stand-out track on Coverta is Adrenaline Mob’s version of “Barracuda,” by Heart.  Singer Russell Allen does not attempt to sound like Ann Wilson of Heart, because that would just be plain silly.  No, he hits similar notes in his own vocal range, and it works.  The whole band sounds great and maintains its style.  Another key track is Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song.” Again, Allen does not try to reach Robert Plant’s almost unreachable notes.  Also, the band maintains their heavy, rough-edged sound while still honoring the original version.  As for “Kill the King,” “Stand Up and Shout,” and “The Mob Rules,” Allen can handle a similar vocal range to that of the late Ronnie James Dio.  Therefore, he is able to excel on each of those songs.

Needless to say, Adrenaline Mob personalized their covers while Anthrax sadly went the “imitation” route.


Grammy’s 2013: Focus on Live Performances

As portrayed on the official MusicTalker Twitter page, Sunday night brought the annual Grammy’s Awards Ceremony to national television.

The amount of live performances seemed to overpower the number of actual awards presented at the ceremony.  Of course, CBS only showed the most popular awards being presented.

Still, there were a couple exceptionally noteworthy live performances that CBS televised.  Maroon 5 and Alicia Keys’ duet was entertaining, but was not the best of the night, by any means.  The highlight of their “set” was Keys’ song, “Girl On Fire,” but only once Maroon 5 joined in for musical back-up.

The Bob Marley tribute performance was arguably the greatest moment of the night. Bruno Mars kicked it off with his song, “Locked Out of Heaven,” which sounds like a song the Police could have written.  Heating up the room with good vibes, Sting stepped out on stage and started singing this Police-like song with Mars.  The performance continued to better itself with Rihanna and Ziggy Marley joining in on a couple of other songs.  If that doesn’t seem exciting enough, Damian Marley jumped in, too.  This all-star tribute performance brought a big party to the Grammy’s, if only for a few minutes.

Another highlight of the evening was Kelly Clarkson’s acceptance speech for “Best Pop Vocal Album.”

The video speaks for itself:


Thoughts On Randy Blythe’s Online Vent Session

As recently reported on theprp.com, Lamb of God front man, Randy Blythe, let out his thoughts on Instagram regarding the disrespect the audience at LoG’s concert in Medford, Oregon showed toward the victims of the December 14th Newtown, CT school shooting.

I commend Mr. Blythe for publicly venting about these scum bags.  For those who have not read that article, read it.  If you don’t feel like it, here’s a brief synopsis: At their concert in Oregon on the evening following the shooting, Lamb of God asked for a moment of silence in honor of the fallen children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School. During that allotted sixty seconds, several audience members would not shut up.  They were screaming and showing full disrespect.  It’s not like the whole situation wasn’t disgusting already.  It’s bad enough that 26 innocent people lost their lives that day, especially when 20 of those people were only six or seven years old.  Therefore, the band’s request was not unwarranted whatsoever.

As Randy said in his vent session, “You yelling people give metal a bad name – screw that, you give humanity a bad name.” I wholeheartedly agree with this thoughtful and respectful man.  Lamb of God was doing a good thing and those punks screwed it up.  Have some manners, people.  It is common courtesy in the name of humanity.  This was a tragedy, as Blythe expressed, and it should be treated as such.

Metalheads often feel like they have to be tough.  Well, this is not the occasion to feel or act in that manner. Metalheads pride themselves in joining together in the “Metal Brotherhood.” Well, in this case, we metalheads need to join together with the rest of our free nation in mourning the losses of these innocent people and working toward a better place.  If everyone were to act like those narrow-minded in-breds in Oregon, tragedies like that of the CT shooting would continue to happen and potentially be more drastic.

With all of that said, my prayers and positive thoughts go out to all of the fallen and their loved ones.  I am sincerely sorry for your losses.

Also, thank you to Lamb of God and everyone else who was not directly involved for extending your thoughts and prayers to the victims of this terrible tragedy.  We, as a people, should be able to put any differences aside to unite against terrible events such as this.


In Memoriam: Suicide Silence’s Mitch Lucker (10/20/84 – 11/1/12)

As many people know by now, Mitch Lucker, lead vocalist of extreme metal band, Suicide Silence, was killed in a motorcycle crash this past Thursday, November 1st.  The dude was only 28 years old! I am 23, so I’m not much younger, which makes it that much scarier and hard-hitting to me.

Lucker’s death is not only a hard hit to the metal community, but to the minds of the general public.  Twenty-eight is no longer the age of a full-grown adult.  Today, many thirty year olds are still trying to find jobs and start lives of their own.  Also, the average life span has extended so much over the years.  It is no longer unheard of for a person dying at age 100.

Lucker had a whole life ahead of him.  I would like to further note that I come from a small suburban town that has lost five young people, all younger than Mitch, in the time span of five years.  So, I personally know the severity of young deaths.  Still, Mitch seemed like a good guy.  After seeing Suicide Silence with Machine Head at the Palladium, I was thoroughly impressed by his passion for his music and his power of winning over his crowd at live shows, and most likely anywhere he went.

With all that said, I send my thoughts out to all of Mitch’s loved ones.  Rest in peace, young man.


[REVIEW] Matchbox Twenty – “North”

Before we begin, let me say that if you are expecting the Matchbox Twenty of the ‘90s/early 2000s in this new release, don’t.  North sounds like a mix between Rob Thomas’ solo repertoire and the “new” tunes on 2007’s Exile on the Mainstream.  It is very poppy and upbeat, contrary to the Matchbox of the ‘90s.

Back in the day, which was a Wednesday (Dane Cook reference, if you didn’t pick up on it), this band was a soft/alt rock band with a distinguishable sound.  While Thomas’ voice is distinguishable by itself, the backing band has lost its rock influences since 2002’s More Than You Think You Are.  However, that is not to say that 2012’s North lacks the catchiness and relatable characteristics which have made up the music of Matchbox Twenty since day one.  Several of the twelve tracks on the regular edition of North are exceptionally catchy and memorable despite the loss of the band’s once signature soft rock sound.

The first single from the new record, “She’s So Mean,” is easily the closest to old school Matchbox, being the only rock track present.  It is definitely a song that will liven any Matchbox Twenty fan, from singing along to the studio version to screaming the lyrics back to Rob Thomas in concert.  Aside from “She’s So Mean,” I would have to say my favorite track off North is easily “English Town.”  This is one of the few songs which Thomas did not write out of Matchbox Twenty’s entire discography.  As my father noted, “English Town” begins almost with a David Bowie-type dreary feel before breaking into an upbeat, catchy verse.  After hearing this song for the first time, it was already stuck in my head.

The aforementioned tracks are the most notable songs off of North.  Overall, the new release sounds very upbeat with some mood variation throughout its forty-two minute duration.  While North holds no competition toward the likes of Mad Season or More Than You Think You Are, it is worth a proper listen.

 

Check out the music video for “She’s So Mean”:


Don’t Just Play. Perform!

From the fifty-plus concerts I have attended thus far in my life, I have formulated some strong opinions regarding live performances.  Take note that I am, by no means, offering disrespect toward any of the acts I mention in this article.  I am simply stating my personal opinions and views.  With that said, let’s get to it.

First off, when I experience a live concert, I expect a performance, not just a live run-through of the music.  Let me explain.  A lot of bands these days, especially those in the heavy metal genre, seem to think the fans only want to hear the music in a live setting.  Wrong!  Well, at least for myself, that is not a correct theory.

For an act to “wow” me and convince me that they offer great performances, they need to meet several characteristics during their show:

1. Crowd Interaction.

This is easily the most important characteristic in my eyes.  I like to experience the music played to me, not at me.  If it’s a band performing, any and all of the members can take part, even if they lack a microphone.  For instance, 10 Years’ drummer played catch with the audience with his drumsticks.  When a fan threw one back too short, the bassist caught it and used it like a violin on his bass guitar.  Bruce Springsteen brings fans on stage to dance, takes song requests, and holds his microphone to fans in the pit to sing along.  Mitch Lucker of Suicide Silence brought his fans into the performance by dividing the crowd to make more noise along with other little gimmicks like that.  Although it’s a bit cliché, it is still better than playing at the crowd.

2. Stage Presence & Energy.

This part can be paired with crowd interaction.  It can also create exceptions for the first aspect.  For instance, if an act appears to be having fun with their performance, they may not have to engage in the audience as much as other acts.  They should still do it, though.  One example for this piece is Incubus.  When I witnessed their live show, frontman Brandon Boyd did not share many words with the crowd.  However, the band was clearly having fun playing to a packed ampi-theater audience with a well-chosen set list.  Still, Boyd engaged with the crowd by holding out his microphone during the chorus of “Wish You Were Here” for the fans to sing along, and boy, they sang!

3. Overall Sound.

The music has to sound good.  I remember when I saw Slayer at Mayhem Fest ’09, something was off.  Their microphones or speakers kept fading out, which definitely tainted their overall performance.

4. Time.

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  If you are one of the main acts in the show and a lot of people are mainly there to see you, do not just play a forty-minute set, especially if you are in the direct support slot.  Black Stone Cherry, I am talking to you.  If you are the second-to-last band of the night, I want to hear at least one hour out of you.  You guys have enough material to do that.

Anyway, that is my spiel.  I love concerts and seeing all different kinds of performances.  I am used to attending metal shows, but a lot of those shows are more or less the same experience.  Therefore, seeing acts like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Childish Gambino, etc. is refreshing.


Thoughts on “Trespass America Festival” Tour

 As recently announced, a group of hard rock/heavy metal bands will be hitting the road together across North America this summer.  Overall, I really like the lineup, with a few exceptions. With that said, this is a very weird mix of bands.  I am not even sure to what type of crowd will come out to these shows. For instance, Pop Evil and Emmure have not the slightest similarities in any part of their respective styles.  If you scrapped those two bands, you would have an absolutely killer bill which makes much more sense as a whole.

Anyway, I plan to attend the Worcester date.  I need to experience Killswitch Engage with original lead singer, Jesse Leach.  Unfortunately, I missed their performance at New England Metal and Hardcore Festival last Sunday night.  However, I am set on seeing them this time around.  Also, it will be great to see God Forbid and Trivium once again.  I really like what I have heard from Battlecross, so they will be cool to see.  As for Five Finger Death Punch, I could go either way with them.

I feel like I might be sending some mixed messages here, so I will say this:  This tour seems to be a promising one and if you like any and/or all of the bands on the bill, you should probably check it out!

Trespass America Tour lineup:

Battlecross
Emmure
Pop Evil
God Forbid
Trivium
Killswitch Engage
Five Finger Death Punch

Check out this video of Killswitch Engage live at New England Metal and Hardcore Fest last Sunday (April 22nd, 2012):


Thoughts on Bonnaroo 2012 Lineup

This year’s lineup for the annual Bonnaroo festival was recently announced, and I figured I would offer my thoughts on the subject:

I have never been to Bonnaroo, nor have I been on a road trip of any kind.  However, after seeing this lineup, I might have two first’s come June 7th-10th.  While I do not know a good portion of the artists listed, most of the ones I do know, I really like.

Red Hot Chili Peppers are listed as one of the headliners.  They are also hitting the TD Garden in May.  It may be cooler to see them at Bonnaroo, though, especially when a bunch of other artists I like will also be playing.

Of the artists I know, the ones I am particularly excited for include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Childish Gambino, Ludacris, Foster the People, Young the Giant, Delta Spirit, and Kvelertak.

With the exceptions of Young the Giant and Delta Spirit, I have never witnessed any of the above acts in a live setting.  I saw Young the Giant open for Incubus this past September.  They were great live and I have since purchased their album and grown a stronger bond with their music.  As for Delta Spirit, I experienced their live show at a Dr. Dog show a couple years back.  I didn’t know how I felt about them at first, because I was still strictly into mostly metal at that time.  I have more recently diversified my music taste much more extensively.  For that reason, I believe I would be able to appreciate Delta Spirit more so than when I saw them with Dr. Dog, despite the fact that I did enjoy their music.

Red Hot Chili Peppers are classic and pretty self-explanatory.

Last fall, one of my good buddies introduced me to Childish Gambino.  This guy is extremely talented with everything he does.  Comedy fans might know him as Donald Glover and/or recognize him from the TV show, Community, or the “Bro Rape” satirical video on YouTube.  This dude is incredible with anything he touches, especially his music under the moniker of Childish Gambino.  I NEED to see him live.  I missed his headlining show at the House of Blues in November, so this needs to be fixed.

I woke up yesterday morning before I even knew about the lineup, singing Ludacris songs for some reason.  I thought to myself, “What ever happened to Ludacris?”  Soon afterwards, I learned that he would be at Bonnaroo this year.  He should hopefully be a good live act.

I have Foster The People’s album, Torches, and love it, so I am excited to potentially seeing them live.

Kvelertak is a Norwegian metal band with the catchiest riffs.  I know about them via my former position as metal director at WBIM.  I received their record as promo last year and really enjoyed it.

One more act I didn’t mention is Yelawolf.  One of my best friends really likes Yelawolf.  He says that the rapper is ‘so bad that he’s good.’  Hmm… We’ll see.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic lineup and I truly hope I can find a way to get there this year.  Money might be an issue..

Thanks for reading!

Here is the lineup:

http://lineup.bonnaroo.com/


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