The Nerve/The Legend

Something just came to my attention. Well, a while ago actually…I’m not sure if it matters or if it’s that big of a deal, but I think it proves a fact. People will gravitate to someone after something very tragic happens. It’s almost like no one pays that much attention to that person, and then when something unexpected happens, they flock to the scene. It seems like that’s sort of what happened with late actor Heath Ledger. My friend brought it up, and it had me thinking a bit.

You’re probably asking how I came to this realization…I saw the movie Lords of Dogtown for the first time, and my friend brought it up before the movie started.

As bad as it might sound, it is true. After people learned that Heath Ledger had passed, it seemed like all of a sudden people were huge fans of him. It seemed like everyone immediately recognized him as the Joker in The Dark Knight, completely forgetting about the movies he’d played in before, probably because they didn’t know the movies he’d played in prior to The Dark Knight. Focus only on a movie everyone knows, instead of the ones that got him the start to be able to play in his most well-known picture. That’s original.

With all honesty involved here, I first fell in love with Heath Ledger as an actor when I saw 10 Things I Hate About You. I didn’t know that it was a modern adaptation of The Taming Of The Shrew until I’d seen it a couple times and found out from my sister, but that didn’t really make a difference. He played the character of Patrick Verona perfectly, and I don’t think the movie would’ve been the same without him as the rebel who ends up having a little of a soft side.

The next movie I’d seen Ledger in was The Patriot, as a part of a school project in the 8th grade. I’m pretty sure I’d missed the beginning of the movie because I wasn’t in school when it started, but I’d seen the rest of it. His role as Gabriel Martin, a patriot’s son, is a far-cry from that of Verona in 10 Things but that’s the entire idea of acting. I distinctly remember that some of the girls sitting in front of me thought that he wasn’t bad-looking, which honestly, he wasn’t. They thought this for most of the movie until…They found out that he was one of the main characters in the controversial, award-winning film Brokeback Mountain. I can’t say that I wasn’t shocked upon learning that Heath Ledger was to play opposite of Jake Gyllenhaal in the particular role he was in, but I didn’t lose any respect for him. Yeah, I was pretty surprised and what have you, but whether you’re in a provocative role or not, something new to you or not, it doesn’t change you as a person. You’re still the same person once you leave the set of whatever movie you’re shooting or whatever it is you’re doing. Some people, I think, don’t understand that.

Another Ledger film, that I still haven’t seen all of, is Candy, filmed in his native of Australia. From what I saw of it, the movie isn’t hard to follow, but is very raw and real. The story of Candy revolves around the complicated and deadly love between artist Candy and poet Dan. Their love that was once strong and stable, gives way to Dan’s heroin addiction and swirls into something they never saw coming. Like any movie that focuses on more of the real world than some are willing to accept, it really makes you think about how some people live their lives and what happens when some kind of dependency ruins a part of them or in the process, destroys someone else. The other film I still haven’t managed to watch all of is A Knight’s Tale. I swear, it’s been on a million times and I’ve never seen the whole thing. A Knight’s Tale, inspired by The Canterbury Tales, came out after 10 Things and seems to be one of the movies other than The Dark Knight that people seem to recognize him in. Don’t get me wrong, The Dark Knight displays one of Ledger’s best performances via the Oscar that he won, but there was more that led up to that point. While Candy shows real life in a present-day, on the receiving end of an addict in love with the two very different things in his life, A Knight’s Tale shows real life in a completely different time, on the receiving end of a squire who fills his dead master’s shoes, literally, with his jousting talents.

The last movie I saw Heath Ledger in was, as with almost everyone in the entire world, The Dark Knight. Before I’d seen the movie, I heard a lot about how the classic villain wasn’t the same criminal that was portrayed by Jack Nicholson or that of Cesar Romero before him. Every actor has their own way of portraying characters and Ledger’s rendering was no exception. While Nicholson and Romero’s interpretations of The Joker seemed clean and well-kept (for a criminal) as far as make-up and clothing go, Ledger’s version was more gritty and rough, via the smudged make-up and cleverly stylish mismatched clothes. Out of all three actors’ perspectives on the classic character and his deranged nature, it seems like Ledger’s interpretation was unexpected. The very core of his character bleeds with the corruption and insanity of a society driven under, something that previous outlooks didn’t display in such the manner that you get chills down your spine.

Most people are quick to believe that The Dark Knight is the Australian actor’s last movie before his untimely passing…and they’re right for the most part. The fantasy film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, would have been Ledger’s final finished movie, but everything doesn’t always work out how it should…Oddly enough, the movie still manages to work out. The main character, Tony, is able to go travel through this imaginarium (via the title) and as he travels, his image changes. Upon Ledger’s untimely departure, the role of Tony was taken by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, working out perfectly since Tony’s character looks different every time he goes through the imaginarium. Even though the film didn’t finish with Ledger fully present, I would still like to see it for myself and see how good it is.

The whole time I watched Lords of Dogtown, I wasn’t thinking about the comment my friend made beforehand, but how I would’ve like to live in California in the 1970’s. I could honestly picture summer, the sun all around, watching people skateboard in empty swimming pools, so care-free without a worry in sight. Aside from the fact I was thinking about summer in California, I felt pretty educated because I honestly never knew where the sport/culture of skateboarding started. I had really never thought about it, and after the movie ended, I still felt proud that I knew how it all started. It’s pretty amazing how something so simple as a way to kill time could be the next big sport. I was also amazed to know that the movie was written by Stacy Peralta…The Stacy Peralta. One of the three individuals that started the skateboarding movement and went on to become a legend. That definitely made me smile. Just learning and knowing how the legends actually became legends, it was 100% worth it.

Seeing Dogtown was (as I just said) definitely worth it. Not only did it feature the beloved and missed Heath Ledger, but it also showcased the origin of how skateboarding started and how the legends came to be. That’s the beauty about movies sometimes, you learn little (or big) facts that you never knew before. May Mr. Ledger rest in peace and the heart & soul of skateboarding live on.

Life is a joyride of non-stop ups and downs. Live every day and regret nothing.

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.

Originality is a rarity/Annoyance of epic proportions

People annoy me. Sometimes, I’m just totally fed up and down-right sick of people. There are reasons I’m totally certain of and others that I’m not so certain of. Sometimes I’m just annoyed by people because I’m having a bad day, or my day becomes bad because of what people do or say. It just seems like people today have no sense. Absolutely nothing original radiates from their person. Everything about them is so…cliched and such a trend, and that just annoys the hell out of me.

It seems like almost everyday I’m discovering more and more ways that people can be so fake. People who go along with trends seriously annoy me. I just hate seeing people in outrageously form fitting skinny jeans, skin-tight hoodies, dyed black hair, and maybe some heavy eyeliner and/or an optional face piercing or two. I mean, yeah, that’s great and all, but it seems like everyone looks like that today. Everywhere I go, it’s like that’s all I see. I honestly don’t care how people dress or what they do with their lives, but with everyone at the mall or school looking the same…Gets really old, really quick.

Another thing that annoys me is these people are categorizing themselves as “emo”. Why the hell would you categorize yourself? Hello, it’s called being original, being yourself. NOT going by a category that everyone else is currently sporting. Or they decide to sport the label of “emo” because of the music currently on their iPod. Just because you listen to music that matches the supposed “darkness and emotional wreckage of your soul” or “how much you hate the world” that automatically makes you “emo”?  That just, as Peter Griffin would say, “really grinds my gears!” 🙂

The fact that people like that constantly complain about how no one “understands them” or how “everyone hates them”, is total crap. “I cut myself, and listen to music about dying” or “Let’s compare the scars on our wrists. Whose is deeper?” Gag me! That’s just ignorance at its finest. Trying to get attention because they feel like no one else will pay attention to them if they’re original. That contradiction is so incredibly pathetic. They think they own the world one minute, and complain about how much their life sucks the next. It’s disgusting. Get the hell over it! Complaining will get you nowhere. If you’re life sucks sooo much, then do something about it.

I’ll be totally honest…I do wear skinny jeans, fitted hoodies, and dye my hair. Think I’m apart of the trend? Guess again. I wear skinny jeans because I like the wear they fit and how they look on me. The fact that I’m petite does have its advantages. 😉 I wear fitted hoodies because I don’t like how bigger hoodies fit on me. Again, I’m kinda picky ’cause I’m tiny. My hair dye color of choice isn’t black, though. Personally, I like the way the dark red looks on me. Black would look really, well, not pretty on me. One of my friends from way back suggested I dye it black…Thankfully, I never went through with it. As for the heavy eyeliner and optional face piercing, I smudge my eyeliner just alittle, not to the extreme to where I look like I’m the walking dead, and I don’t have any piercings on my face. Although I hope to get my lip pierced after I get my braces off.

As for the music on my iPod, I listen to whatever I like. I don’t pay attention to genres or what everyone else is listening to. If I like, I’ll listen to it. It’s that easy to understand.

I dont’ follow any trends or conform to any labels. Plain and simple. I don’t categorize myself as anything because it’s a waste of time, and I don’t see myself fitting into a category at all. People who categorize themselves are too afraid of what others might think or to lose the supposed friends they’ve made. Ignorance at its finest.

Murder the trends and never-ending labels before they end up murdering your sense of strength.