Away From The Norm (A July Anomaly Pt. 2)

7:55 a.m.

It’s that time again. Both of my windows are grey and rain-stained. Thunder pounded the sky, while lightning streaked across it not long after. The power went out for a second or two, buzzing back to live just as quickly as it had gone.

Rain. A far-cry from the norm.

There isn’t any of the dreaded heat or humidity that weighs down your mood, no matter how chipper you are. The air is cooler, feeling more like the Autumn season I love. Even better with a Lipton raspberry iced tea and Placebo thrown in…This Saturday morning couldn’t be more perfect.

The simplest of things can make the biggest of difference.

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.

“You’ve Made Me Perfect”

Yes, I know a couple weeks ago I said that Suicide Silence was my favorite band at the moment, but I’ve found myself going back to a band that’s been around longer and comes from a totally different genre. A band that I just love. The band that is the center of my musical obsession right now is AFI.

I was reading an article in the October issue of Revolver magazine about AFI’s new album, their 8th studio album, Crash Love, which is said to come out on September 29th…I’ll be honest: I’m not a die-hard AFI fan. When their full-length debut, Answer That And Stay Fashionable came out  in 1995, I was only 4. So I can’t say I’m a dedicated, die-hard fan, but I can say that I’ve been a fan since 2003.

I remember I was watching FUSE and I saw the video for “Girl’s Not Grey” for the very first time. My mom was in the room with me, and she had to take a double take, looking at lead singer Davey Havok, asking me, “Is that a man or a women?” Looking back on that day now, I smile and laugh, because I was the one that turned her kinda into an AFI fan. Well, not of their old-school stuff, because I honestly don’t think she’s ever heard it, but definitely of the entire Sing The Sorrow album.   

I didn’t just make my mom a fan of Sing The Sorrow, though. It had a surprising effect on the kids at my new school at the time, most who became my friends. Like, none of them heard of AFI. I had a bunch of buttons and I wore a shirt one day, so they started to get curious about my musical preferences, I guess. Not long after, my one friend told me he was blaring it through the speakers in his dad’s car. That made me smile. It’s just amazing how music can bring people together.

After awhile I thought I’d dig deeper into their older albums. This thought entered my mind after I received their 2000 album, The Art Of Drowning for Christmas a year later. I hadn’t listened to the whole thing yet, so I figured I would, and I’m really happy I did. Their sound was more fast-paced and more energetic. Now don’t get me wrong, Sing The Sorrow is great, but something about Drowning caught me, and held me. Seeing the videos for “Leaving Song, Pt. 2” and “Silver And Cold”,  I sort of  fell in love again with the type of sound Sorrow brought, but that didn’t lessen the hold their older material had what-so-ever. I decided to dig even deeper, and I’m, once again, really happy I did.

Out of all their old albums, I personally like Answer That And Stay Fashionable, Black Sails In The Sunset, All Hallow’s EP (yes, it’s an EP, but it’s still great!) and The Art Of Drowning.

The first time I saw the video for “Miss Murder”, I didn’t know what to think. Their sound was new and different, and it honestly took me awhile to get used to it. Yes, I know how bands usually change their sound to keep up with times and sort of branch away from everything that sounds the same, and I totally respect that. It takes alot of guts to change your sound, knowing that fans will either accept or deny it. AFI did one hell of a job.

After listening to the song a couple times, I fell in love with it. I actually have “Love Like Winter”, “Kill Caustic”, and “Affliction” on my iPod. Great songs. Most people would probably say that “It’s not the same AFI” or “What the hell is this?”. I think that’s just close-mindedness at its best. Yes, the sound of, well, Decemberunderground is different but it’s still the same four guys, doing what they love. The only thing that changed is the sound, and let’s face it, who wants every album by a band they really like or maybe even love, to be just a regurgitated version of itself? I think that Underground is a good album. I mean, yeah, it doesn’t sport the same exact intensity as their previous work, but it has an intensity all its own. Any kind of intensity is good. No matter how extreme or minuscule, it doesn’t matter. It’s still the same band.

…From what I read about Crash Love, it’s going to be more of a “guitar record”. Which means no synths or anything like that. I guess that means nothing like Decemberunderground or any other of their records for that matter. I have a feeling it’s going to be something totally different than anything else out there, as Underground was, but with alot more intensity than Underground. No matter what the sound, it’s still AFI. I’m really excited about Crash Love. I can’t wait til September 29th! 😉

Look what you’ve done to me now, you’ve made me perfect.” “The Lost Souls” – AFI

Happy?

Are you happy with the person you’ve turned into? Happy about the decisions you’ve made? Happy that you’re in with everyone else’s trend? Happy that you can say that you’ve been to that party, and gotten so drunk that you can’t remember what day it is? Yeah, I thought you would be.

I don’t know whether to be disappointed, ashamed, or disgusted by you. It’s that bad. I used to think that you would be an exception. You were so perfect, it made me choke. Now I choke on the person you’ve become. Does it make you happy that you can say you’ve been there? Are you happy to say that you’ve had so many boyfriends that you can’t remember where the last one ending and the new one begins? Happy that everyone talks about you behind your back? All the rumors that go around about what bitch you are. Hate to break it to ya, but they’re all true. Totally and completely true. I should know. We used to be the best of friends. That all changed. For the better.

Disappointed. Disgusted. Ashamed. I can say you make me feel all three. Disappointed, because I was stupid enough to be believe that you were better than this. Disgusted, because you’re so below everything you once were. Ashamed, because I actually cared and loved you enough to call you my best friend. Are you happy when you come to school, where you don’t even bother showing up anymore, to see your friends? Don’t think I don’t see your bloodshot eyes. I do. Everyone probably does. Are you happy that, when you are in school every now and then, you brag about the party you were at last night? How high you got? How drunk you were? I smile at how incredibly stupid you are. I don’t tell you what I think of you. You probably already know.

I’m even more DISAPPOINTED, DISGUSTED, and ASHAMED by you. I gave you a second chance, when I never should’ve called you my best friend in the first place, let alone my boyfriend. Are you happy that you probably go through girlfriends like a drug addict goes through his drug supply? Don’t try and deny it. Are you happy that you wasted an entire month with me? Lying. Are you happy that you were so high and drunk at a party that you spilled your heart to some random girl, only to be cheated on? Making your outlook on love dismal and distorted. The reason why you could never fully, truly love again. The reason why you can never love me. Or supposedly anyone else for that matter. Are you happy?

Is it safe to say that you’re happy? That you’re completely content with your life? The things you’ve done, with or without consequences…I don’t know about you, but I’m the happiest I’ll ever be at this point in time.

Is it safe to say that you’re happy? How many times do you need to ask yourselves before you settle with the truth?

Only true friends will be there till the end.