A New Appreciation

It seems like it’s been “forever” since I’ve written something music-related. But it honestly hasn’t, it’s just a new year.

I have a new-found respect for music. I have a new-found respect for bands I’d either never heard of, or wasn’t a big fan of before. For some unknown reason, I’m drawn to bands I wasn’t drawn to before, and honestly never thought I’d like. Things definitely changed. For the better.

It’s safe to say that I really like Flyleaf now. I mean, I never fully got into them in 2005 when their self-titled CD came out and everyone seemed to fall in love with them. Strangely, I just didn’t. I’ll admit, I’d fallen in love with “Fully Alive” and “Breathe Today”, but never got into them as much as I would some other band. Call it the rebel in me, but it just wasn’t something I was listening to. Now, that my musical tastes have evolved, along with the help of their new album, I have a massive amount of respect for them. 

I honestly had no idea about their new CD, Memento Mori, until I saw the video for “Again”, and saw the CD on iTunes. When I heard the beginning of the song, I immediately fell in love with it. As it progressed, I fell even deeper in love. Lead singer Lacey Mosley’s voice is just incredible. Her vocals are a lot cleaner and easier to understand. She’s improved on the vocal front, and paired with the rawness of the instruments, it’s just amazing. The whole album is swirling around the need for freedom, while still incorporating their faith and religion in every intricate lyric.

I’m not usually a fan of Christian rock bands, but Flyleaf is definitely an exception. For some reason, I always thought that Christian bands would sing about how their religion was better than every other religion, but that’s not the case with Flyleaf. I guess that’s what I get for assuming. Made an ass out of myself.

Obviously, I’m not as keen on the concept of religion as the next person might be, but music is music, and if it’s good, then it’s good. It honestly shouldn’t matter what type of faith is put into it, it all goes through your earbuds/headphones the same way anyway.

Music is music, and it’s definitely safe to say that I’m a new-found fan of Flyleaf.

The next band on my rather lengthy appreciation list is another female-fronted band, known to the majority of the world as Paramore.

It is extremely safe to say that I love Paramore again. I first fell in love with them when I saw the video for “Pressure”. I honestly had no idea who they were at the time, but the song just grabbed me. I then fully recognized them when I  heard the song “Emergency”. One of my friends bought me the Warped Tour Compilation 2006 CD, and that song was featured on it. I instantly fell victim to Hayley Williams’s one-of-a-kind voice, and the band’s all around sound.

After their debut, All We Know Is Falling was Riot!, and once Riot! came out, it seemed like everyone was listening to them and saying that they were a Paramore fan. Now, I have absolutely nothing wrong with someone who listens to Paramore because I do too, but things like that aggravate me. With the songs “Misery Business” and “Crushcrushcrush” being what everyone was listening to, I stopped listening to Paramore for a while. Call it stupid, or dissing the band, but I needed to be away from what everyone else was currently listening to.

Despite the fact I stopped listening to Paramore for a while, there’s no sure-fire way to ever stop listening forever. Needless to say, it’s kind of impossible not to listen to Paramore, especially since their newest release, Brand New Eyes.

Paramore prove that they’re so much more than the band they were in the beginning. Having dealt with conflicts, and the near break-up of the band, they’re definitely stronger, and the music on Brand New Eyes totally shows it. Hayley’s voice is better than ever, fitting perfectly with the new-found aggression and strength. The videos for “Ignorance” and “Brick By Boring Brick” should be good demonstrations. Proving all the more that Paramore have grown up not only as a band, but as individuals as well.

I congratulate Paramore on finding their brand new eyes and only becoming stronger. Music is music whether you accept it or not.

The next band I have a huge amount of appreciation for is hardcore act, A Skylit Drive.

I had never heard of Skylit until earlier last year. I found them courtesy of iTunes, and figured I’d check them out. Upon my first listen, the element that surprised and grabbed me the most was lead singer Michael “Jag” Jagmin’s voice. His rather high-pitched voice incorporates with drummer Cory La Quay’s screams beautifully. I think if his voice sounded any different, then it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be A Skylit Drive.

I immediately found myself falling into a trance listening to their EP, She Watched The Sky. All 7 songs are amazing, and their full-length debut, Wires…And The Concept of Breathing, released in 2008, is no exception. Everything about Wires is crushing and brutal, while is managing to be incredibly crafted and beautiful. I find myself listening to “Knights Of The Round”, “Wires…And The Concept Of Breathing”, “I’m Not A Thief, I’m A Treasure Hunter”, and “All It Takes For Your Dreams To Come True” countless times a day.

Their newest release Adelphia, has a very different sound than Wires but it only proves that A Skylit Drive can break out of their genre a little and still create something hard-hitting and original. Jag’s vocals are clearly a lot cleaner and seem to be more present than they were on Sky and Wires. The vocals were obviously always there, but now they seem to be the main focus on the album, rather than Cory’s screams combined with the clean vocals.

Despite the mixed reviews I’ve read about Adelphia, my mind hasn’t changed about the band or the CD. The band is truly original, and Adelphia is genius. Every song is its own entity; no two songs sound the same, making them a stand-out among most bands today. The song “Prelude To A Dream” makes me swoon, and “Those Cannons Could Sink A Ship” and “Eva The Carrier” make me attempt to sing along. Not very good, I might add. The beginning of “Prelude” is just amazing. Jag’s voice is so soft you almost can’t hear what he’s singing, and then the screaming comes to proceed into a damn-good song. The lyrics in “Cannons” and “Eva” are both infectious and you’re kind of entitled to sing along because they’re so catchy.

While I think it was pretty hard to top Wires, it’s safe to say that Adelphia does come close. I love Wires, but I’m beginning to fall in love with Adelphia. Only time will tell which one I end up loving more.

Kudos to A Skylit Drive. Music is music, and I’m happy to say that I’m a fan.

The next band on my pretty lengthy kudos list is Every Time I Die.

I’d more than likely seen them a million times before on TV or something. I just never knew who they were. I remember I’d seen the videos for the songs “Kill The Music” and “The New Black” on FUSE and I thought nothing of it. “The New Black” was featured on the same Warped Tour Compilation 2006 as was Paramore’s “Emergency”, I just don’t think I ever took the time to listen. I figured that they were just like any other band out there. Every song sounded like a carbon copy of itself. Once again, that’s exactly what I get for assuming. Made an ass out of myself yet again.

This new-found liking for Every Time I Die came accompanied with their new CD, New Junk Aesthetic. The first song I’d ever fully listened to by them was “Pretty Dirty”, and that song caught me. With all honesty, despite the fact that I had the song on my iPod and all, I forgot about them once I erased the contains and started from scratch. The song that truly hooked and held me was “We’rewolf”. The overall song itself was unlike what I was used to hearing. The lyrics were twisted into some kind of new perfection, and Keith Buckley’s voice was actually pretty refreshing.

I knew absolutely nothing about New Junk Aesthetic until I’d heard the song “Roman Holiday”, and read an article in the November issue of Revolver. Leave it to Revolver to fill me in on things in the music world I more-than-often miss. In the article, it talked about how the CD had a more rock-and-roll type of sound as oppose to their previous releases.

Their debut EP, The Burial Plot Bidding War, as well as their full-length debut Last Night In Town, had the hardcore sound they became famous for. While the albums that followed, Hot Damn!, Gutter Phenomenon, and The Big Dirty still radiated that hardcore/metalcore sound, they also incorporated a Southern-rock tinged sound in the guitar department, and Keith proved to have a killer singing voice, in addition to his signature screaming. Compared to their other albums, Aesthetic is definitely more rock-and-roll, but that’s not a bad thing at all. It still shows how talented they are as musicians, and that they still have the “hardcore/metalcore” sound people usually associate them with, just with a different kind of intensity.

Regardless of how New Junk Aesthetic sounds, where it be rock-and-roll, hardcore, or a strange combination of both, there’s no doubting that it’s well-crafted, with flawless instruments and Keith’s better-than-ever vocals. There’s also no doubting that it’s just down-right kickass. Every song is well pieced together, where one dims off in brilliance, the other picks up the light not shy of a few seconds after. It’s honestly no surprise that I probably go from “Wanderlust”, “White Smoke”, “Buffalo 666”, and “Goddamn Kids These Days” and back again in a 40 minute class period of gym. Those songs alone are that awesome and badass.

I would like to congratulate Every Time I Die for being kickass, and for once again reminding me that you shouldn’t judge a band before you actually listen to them.

The last but definitely not least band on my finally finished, very lengthy appreciation list is the Danish act Volbeat.

Once again, with all brutal honesty accounted for here, I had no idea that Volbeat was even a band until I saw something about them in the back of one of my many issues of Revolver magazine. I didn’t look back on it until I found myself looking for a new and interesting band to listen to, which wasn’t until a couple months ago. Last October actually. It’s honestly kind of weird saying ‘last’ October because it still feels like 2009, but that’s not correct. It’s 2010. But enough about the fact that it’s a new year, back to what makes Volbeat original and one-of-a-kind. 

Like the majority of new bands I’ve listened to, I had no idea what to expect when it came to Volbeat. I didn’t assume I had with Every Time I Die or Flyleaf, as previously stated. I just listened…and I found myself in almost a whole other niche in time. Everything about their sound resonates the old-school music that came before them, and that’s not a bad thing at all. They’re like a violent blend of Metallica and The Misfits, along with a splash of Johnny Cash and Elvis mixed in. I think that most people aren’t drawn to the old-school sound because nowadays it seems like it’s all about the next big sub-genre.

When I first listened to Volbeat, I was taken aback (in the purest contradiction of those words) by frontman Michael Poulsen’s voice. The deepness of his voice sort of reminded me of the vocals of Type O Negative lead, Peter Steele, even though their vocal styles are no way near the same. Despite the partial coincidence, his voice is the most unique thing I’ve heard in a while. His voice wraps around the crushing drums and heavy guitars perfectly, only in a way that he can. Volbeat wouldn’t be the same kind of band if his vocals were different.  

Their latest release, Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood is just amazing in every way possible. Amazing is a word I use a lot when talking about music, and when I say it’s amazing, it truly is. Everything about it is fresh and original, while still having enough venom and bite to surprise and entice. It’s not your typical CD by a band that’s sporting today’s latest sub-genre, nothing even remotely close…

Most bands today, with the exception of a great few, are afraid to break away from the genre they’re currently in and take a chance. I have an extreme amount of respect for bands/musicians that break the mold, while still managing to stay true to their signature sound. It’s like, their signature sound combined with something new and innovative, to create something new that’s all their own. The bands that refuse to go out of the box, and crush the hell out of that mold, seem like they’re either scared to lose fans or afraid of what the so-called “scene” will think. They’re not living up to their full potential.

…Volbeat isn’t one of those bands. If you thought their brilliant, fresh sound was only on Gangsters & Blood, then you’re wrong. Their debut CD, The Strength/The Sound/The Songs released in 2005, displays the same kind of bone-breaking mix of rockabilly, metal, and punk, giving Volbeat their one-of-a-kind sound. I honestly never thought about what it would sound like, mixing three different types of music that all had similarities, but now I’m happy to say that I know exactly what it sounds like. Strength/Sound/Songs is a 15-song joyride that’s just as explosive, as it is in-your-face. It has the same brutality as Gangsters & Blood, only it’s more gritty and rough around the edges. Their follow-up, 2007’s Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil is no exception to the originality and impressive sound. According to my iPod, I’ve listened to the song “Radio Girl” off Rebel/Devil over 30 times, and something tells me that it’s true. It’s a great song; the whole album is pretty great.

Out of all three releases, Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood is the best. When I first heard “Still Counting”, the first Volbeat song I’d heard…ever, I was in complete shock and awe because of how incredible it sounded. The first thing I heard was the almost Southern sound of the guitar, then the drums came in to coincide with it perfectly. With the assistance of Michael’s branded vocals, the song then totally does a 360 and guitars and drums are leading a full-scale assault on your ears. The title track, “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” and “Back To Prom”, almost remind me of the 1950s’. Just the whole feel and sound of the songs echo back to a time vintage cars and gorgeous pin-up girls. “Hallelujah Goat” and “Wild Rover Of Hell” beckon to the metal sound that came before them, executed in perfect heart-pounding harmony. “Find That Soul” reminds me of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I honestly don’t know why, but the feel of the song reminds me of the part in the movie where Santa is confronted by the Boogieman, and then the song proceeds to play and that’s when you know that Santa isn’t going anywhere. Call me crazy, but that’s what I thought of when I first heard the song. No matter what the song reminds you of, it’s awesome nonetheless. As is all of Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood.

I take my hat of to Volbeat for being the most original thing this way out of Denmark. Music is music, and I’m without a doubt a Volbeat fan.

I’m happy that my musical tastes changed because if they didn’t, I don’t think I’d be listening to the great bands I just expressed my appreciation for. I’m happy it changed for the better.

Music is the safest haven. When the rain falls too hard to think and the snow falls too lightly to hear a whisper, you’ll always have its comfort.

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Better With A Comfy Sweater & Chiodos

A while ago I said that the volleyball that was played during my gym class was pretty boring and not very amazing. I think we’re getting better, though. I’m not sure if I can say the same for myself, considering the fact I got hit in the head with the ball in our first real class game Thursday.

It’s typical protocol to wear the required gym attire to class every day. A pair of shorts and T-shirt, along with the occasional hoodie. Pretty simple. The majority of the time, I’m in the proper wear of surf shorts and the random shirt of the day. Thursday, I had my black shorts and dark purple Nightmare Before Christmas tee. My iPod shuffle was attached at my hip, as it has been ever since I realized I get pretty motivated through loud music. I didn’t bother to play it during the game, though. I figured I would try and actually pay attention for once. It didn’t get me very far…

I’ll admit, volleyball games have gotten better. The people playing actually do something now, with the exception on some days. I’m hardly ever bored when playing. That is, unless there’s another class in the gym, and everyone decides to gather to the net. Something like that can get really annoying if you’re wanting to actually play a game. With that once-and-a while-occasion, it’s a pretty good day in gym usually. All and all, I’d say we’ve improved.

…I’m not even sure how far into the game we were. All I knew was that the team I was on wasn’t hitting anything for a while and the other team was winning. We were obviously losing. The ball was coming right at me, which was probably the second or third time it’d came to me the entire game. The hit would’ve been perfect if I hadn’t move forward. Thinking I would move up so it didn’t hit the ground, I quickly moved up a little so I could ‘bump’ it. Bad move. I moved too far up and instead of hitting off my wrists as it usually did, the blue and white volleyball hit me on the right side of my dark red head. At first, I honestly wasn’t sure what happened. My team mates were giving me grief because I didn’t hit it, and the fact that I got hit in the head, added injury to insult. I quickly blew it off; something stupid like that didn’t matter anyway. I was definitely reminded of the game for the rest of the day. The collision that involved my head and the ball gave me the craziest headache, and maybe even knocked a little bit of sense into me. Only time will tell.

Whether be out of sheer laziness, a headache, or the fact that it was Friday, I didn’t bring my gym clothes yesterday. I had my shorts and shirt in my gym bag, all ready to be worn come third period. I just happened to ‘accidently’ forget them on the couch. Okay, it was all on purpose, but that gesture made me realize something. I’m a lot better at volleyball when I’m not appropriately dressed for gym. I walked out of the locker room in my super comfy, super fuzzy black sweater and Chiodos blasting in my ears…I played pretty awesome. For some reason, I was actually motivated to play, despite the fact I was just in regular clothes. Who knew that comfortable clothes and loud music could be a motivator for volleyball?

I exited the gym a little late, but it was worth it. My wrists were red under the sleeves of my black sweater and music still going through my green earbuds. It was a good 40 minutes of gym.

My motivation for sports lacks foundation and the breakdown.

Uneventful Game of ‘Wits’

Forget volleyball. It’s not that I’ve given up playing volleyball. That’s not the case at all. I just refuse to get plowed over by people who are taller and stronger than me. Or to play with people who have no idea how to play. Not my cup of lemon tea…

The volleyball net is in the middle of the gym, with two basketball hoops on either side. There are two gym classes the period I have gym, my gym class and the other gym class. This usually means that boys who hope to be the next big thing in basketball, totally dominate both of the hoops.  Heightening the risk for me or really anyone else, to be ran over by ignorant boys. The entire reason why I don’t even bother playing volleyball.

Yesterday, it seemed like there were somehow more people than there were last week. More than likely the reason why we weren’t penalized if we didn’t wear our appropriate gym attire. I took advantage of this opportunity. I forgot my clothes in my locker upstairs anyway.  For some reason, I just didn’t feel like even doing anything. I wasn’t physically ready for gym, and I couldn’t help but count the minutes til my last bell of the day rang.

Despite the fact there were more people, there weren’t as many guys playing basketball. I figured I actually would pass the time playing volleyball. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had finished the last 8 pages of the book I was reading. Part of me appreciates that I did. It only confirmed how irritating people can be. I know that it’s not easy playing volleyball. When I first started playing in 6th grade, I sucked, but over time I became better. But not being able to hit the ball straight? To the person right in front of you? It’s not that hard. Some people aren’t athletic and what not, but it’s not complicated.

The teams were pretty freakin’ uneven. There were, like, 6 or 7 people on the opposing team, and 4 on the team I was on. They weren’t in any type of positions, either. Just one semi-straight line of people, waiting for the ball to come their way. Some people were hitting the ball too hard, others too lightly. After awhile, I didn’t even hit the ball if it came to me. I didn’t care. Very uneventful. It was a pretty pointless game. Wished I hadn’t played.

Just another way people can get on my nerves and force me to look down on them because they’re ignorant. This is just a whole lot of ranting. Plenty more to come in the future.

Physical education = A joke

Third Day Of My Last Year

It’s Monday. The third day of my last year. I’m starting to really annoy myself when I think that. The third day of my last year…It sounds like I’m gonna die next year or something. How horrible. I still can’t get my head around the fact that I’m a senior, though. Getting past that totally annoying saying that I have to not say anymore…Yes, it is indeed Monday. And this Monday, I actually had fun in gym.

Last night and this morning, I felt, well not the best. Since the weather is deciding to go to from really warm to really chilly, my allergies and asthma were acting up. Not very cool, believe me. I feel asleep on the couch in our living room, which is something I never do on school nights. Well, I do, just not when I’m fully ready to sleep in my own bed. I feel asleep on the couch, with a chocolate brown fleece blanket over me, watching the show Monsters Inside Me. I don’t know if I fell asleep because I was tired or because of the really gross cases on the show. People were getting sick from bugs that were inside them. Actually inside them…I’m surprised I even slept.

I woke up a little later than I’d hoped, but I still woke up. I was feeling better. Still hurting in some places, but I was ok enough to go to school. I took a shower, got dressed, ate, fooled around with my hair, and did an asthma treatment. A big asthma treatment. The same asthma treatment that made me leave for school later than I usually would have, but it wasn’t really a big deal. I could hardly get into school anyway.

I stood there, in front of school, with countless other people, waiting to get into school. It wasn’t raining like it had been on Friday, which was good. It was actually a pleasant morning to be standing outside. If only I wasn’t at school…I watched people cut in front of other people. I didn’t cut in front of anyone, or at least I tried not too. I was just standing there, listening to AFI’s new single “Medicate”. I must have listened to it more than 5 times while waiting in the make-shift lines. A couple more in between classes through out the day. Finally, I made it into school. 20 minutes late, but I made it. My first period teacher was surprisingly ok with the fact that I was late. Others filed in after me a couple minutes later.

Most of this really sunny, chilly Monday was ordinary. All of my classes going by really quick, which is pretty normal because I only have 6 classes this year. English seemed to drag on, though. Probably because we weren’t doing anything. People were sitting there, holding their own conversations, while my teacher took attendance. He said something about handing us out books, but I guess there are more people coming in. Speaking about people coming into class, my French class was insane! There seemed like there were alot more people as oppose to Friday. The maximum capacity is, like, 25 and I think it might have been exceeded or will be soon.

The bell that ended English rang fashionably late, as I’m thinking it will all year. Lunch went by fast. I didn’t get lunch today, even though I told myself I would today. I just didn’t feel like getting up. My laziness for ya. I wished that I’d remembered to take my Amp energy drink out of the fridge before I left this morning. The bell that ended lunch was also, fashionably late. I walked into gym, dreading it a little.

The gym, for some reason, didn’t look as big as it did last week. Maybe the reason why my dread wasn’t so strong as it before. Now, I don’t hate gym at all. I love gym. I love playing volleyball. In my eyes, it’s the best stress reliever. Especially, if I’m having a bad day. I pretend the ball is someone’s head. Always works to relieve stress for me. I sat by this girl from my English class, Mariah, and my friend from freshmen year, Alyssa. After it took my gym teacher what seemed like forever to take attendance, the three of us decided to play ping pong.

At first, I wasn’t too sure if I should play because of my breathing, but it was fine all day, so I figured what the hell? Not the best move on my part, but I know my limits. I know what I can and can’t do. Mariah and Alyssa played a game of ping pong first. I was just watching against the bleachers. When they finished playing, I played Mariah. I honestly didn’t know how good I was at ping pong. I’d never played it to know whether I was good or not. I guess I’m a little too talented, I hit the ball up so high, it got stuck in between the upper part of the bleachers. We asked the other gym teacher if we could go get it, and she let us. All three of us walked up the steps next to the boys’ lockeroom, and found ourselves actually on top of the bleachers. I’d never been up there before, only of my firsts as a senior. After we got the ball, Alyssa and I played a game. Once again, I guess I was good. I didn’t get it up on top the bleachers again, which was good, but I barely missed the ball, either. I was what Alyssa called a “beast”.

Even when we were playing volleyball, two against one, I was still a “beast”. Two on one isn’t fair, but it’s how we played. I wished we had another player, but there wasn’t anyone else I knew and all the other individuals in the gym were preoccupied with their own things, and I’m very shy. People I don’t know + Being shy = Being very, very shy…I wasn’t as rusty as I thought I would be. The last time I’d played volleyball was in May, when my one teacher wasn’t there and my class had to go to the gym. Every serve Mariah hit to me, I hit. I never knew I had such an intensity for volleyball. I never missed a hit, with the exception of the soft ones or the ones that went over my head. And me being so tiny, it’s not that hard. The first 5, maybe 10 minutes of playing, my wrists were red. It didn’t bother me, though. It’s the only sport I’m relatively good at, so I figured at a little pain and soreness is worth it. We played until my gym teacher told us to put the ball up. My wrists were still red. My last bell of the day rang. Fashionably late, of course.

I walked home in the beauty and coolness of the afternoon sun, my wrists still red, still listening to “Medicate”. Today, I surprisingly learned alot. People who seemed like, not nice people, turn out to be ok. French is wayyy too crowded. My art teacher will not be at school this Friday. My English class has more people, and we will slowly, but surely be learning something soon. I write too much when my Health teacher only asked for 3 to 5 sentences. I have listened to AFI’s new single too many times. Wayyy too many times. That’s my Monday.

I guess I’m a “beast”.