Fall is here, and Santa Cruz is the place to be for hip-hop enthusiasts! The next few months are crammed with hip-hop shows all the way until December. Starting on October 13th, Zion I will be at the Catalyst followed by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on October 24th and Brother Ali on October 25th. Blue Scholars will be playing the Catalyst on December 7th as well. If you feel like heading over the hill, Oakland’s Fox Theater will be hosting Aesop Rocky on October 24th and Nas & Lauryn Hill on November 19th. Get your hip-hop fix and go see some live shows this fall!
As I perused our station’s labyrinth of a record collection in search for some “European” music a couple of days ago, I found a record from an artist with a name that rang a bell, but with a track-list that truly seemed foreign. I soon remembered that I had heard the name “Jacques Brel” in Amanda Palmer’s song “Ukelele Anthem”, explaining the slight sense of familiarity; other than that, I had no clue who he was. But I figured, if one of my favorite singers digs his music, it should be decent, right? So I played it and listened to “La Valse À Mille Temps”, which I chose at random.
This tune was stuck in my head for the rest of the evening, and as I naturally do after listening to such an exceptionally incredible piece of music, I immediately read Brel’s biography (on Wikipedia, of course) while listening to his most popular songs on Spotify. Not only was Brel a singer in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, but this godfather of French chanson also starred in various French films. Additionally, he was the original mastermind behind the classic “Ne Me Quitte Pas”, which has been covered by Dusty Springfield, Nina Simone, Barbra Streisand, and literally countless other artists.
Of course, through all my internet-searching I learned one main thing; that this so-called “discovery” of mine was far overdue, and I (and everyone else, in my opinion..) need to listen to his music whenever possible.
Something about Jacques Brel’s work truly stands out. I am familiar with the more modern side of French music – also known as nouvelle chanson – and while I’ve always enjoyed it, something has always felt missing. Nothing ever beats the classics, I suppose! (Even Amanda Palmer’s cover of “Amsterdam” didn’t click with me…but I digress.)
I found his music on the 9th of this month, exactly 34 years after his death. There is no doubt in my mind that his music has left an impact on the world that transcends age and time, and that it will never leave us.
When Between the Buried and Me came to San Francisco for Summer Slaughter, I had the great fortune to sit down with Dan Briggs and Dustie Waring. Of course, one of the main things we discussed in detail was their newest addition to their diverse discography, The Parallax II: Future Sequence. We talked extensively about the new record, but one thing Dustie told me really stuck out to me; he seemed to genuinely think that it was their best musical venture they had ever created. Unfortunately, I very highly disagree with that statement.
1. Goodbye To Everything
2. Astral Body
3. Lay Your Ghosts To Rest
5. Extremophile Elite
7. The Black Box
10. Melting City
11. Silent Fight Parliament
12. Goodbye To Everything (Reprise)
Both musically and conceptually, TPII begins right where The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues left off. The only problem is that it’s start is a little too awkward and jerky. After the intro, “Goodbye to Everything”, we get a little build up that leads into “Astral Body”, but it never really feels or conveys like we’re going onto this awesome musical journey into space where we’ll proceed to have our brains made sweet sweet love to. Ultimately, “Astral Body” seems very out of place as the beginning track. Fortunately, it leads very smoothly right into the next track, “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest”, which is in itself a very solid song. It almost feels as if this should have been the beginning track. This is further perpetuated by the lyrics present towards the last minute or so of the track: “The end, starts now.” In fact, a good chunk of the album sounds like it shouldn’t be there at all. “Autumn” is just a filler track before the meaty “Extremophile Elite”, and “Parallax” doesn’t fundamentally serve a purpose besides some basic storytelling.
Of course, there are more than enough redeeming factors to make this a worthwhile listen. They’ve seemed to realize that their musical endeavors can get bogged down by their penchant for unnecessary wankery, which they have undertaken to fix this time around, with moderate success. While addressing those complaints, they haven’t forgotten what’s made them one of the biggest progressive metal acts around. There is still a ton of weirdness and craziness present in the album, such as the very “sitary” reference to last year’s EP, and the utterly soul crushing breakdown in “Telos”. “Bloom” is also an incredibly fun listen, if a little out of place.
While the first 45 minutes are a sensory overload (for better or worse), the last 30 minutes of the record display some mind boggling and questionable songwriting decisions. There is the occasional segment of exorbitant showoffiness mixed with some seemingly random riffage, but the big difference between TPII‘s examples of etravagance and their previous efforts is the lack of an ultimate climax (stop your snickering). Once I had finally traversed through the drudgery of their instrument work and reached the end of my journey throughout Colors and The Great Misdirect, I felt like I could put the record away, that there was a satisfying conclusion to the melodious struggle that I had just experienced. This was what defined my time with BTBAM: the breathtaking and exciting climaxes that I felt throughout each and every one of their albums. However, with TPII, I experienced no such climactic feeling. I still had a sense of moving forward even though I had conclusively reached the end of the groundwork that BTBAM had orchestrated for me. It all adds up to a very anticlimactic finish from what is an otherwise pleasant aural eargasm.
Overall, TPII is a solid outing from BTBAM, though one can’t help but get the feeling that more could have been accomplished here. BTBAM tried to do too much and not enough at the same time, and while their newest release indicates that they are indeed moving forward, it also suggests that they’ve lost a step or two in their songwriting prowess along the way. Still, it’s hard not to be hopeful for the future. If BTBAM can execute more or less what they’ve done in TPII without the occasional clumsiness and stumble, it’ll be incredibly difficult for any band to top what they can deliver.
FINAL SUPER ULTIMATE RATING:
(3.5 Brutalisks out of 5)
I think now is a very worthwhile time to point out the amazing upcoming metal albums that are dropping in this metallest of months. The list is as follows: BTBAM, Daylight Dies, Enslaved, Dethklok, Downfall of Gaia, Converge, Sylosis, Wintersun, Behold the Arctopus, and of course Neurosis. I’m sure I’ve forgotten many, but it’s hard to keep track when there have been no less than 25 albums released this year that, on their own, could probably win an Album of the Year award or two. Seriously, how good of a year is 2012 shaping up to be for us headbanging metalheads? We better enjoy it while we can, because it definitely won’t last forever…
1 ENSLAVED Riitiir Nuclear
2 CONVERGE All We Love We Leave Behind Epitaph
3 METALOCALYPSE: DETHKLOK Dethalbum III Cartoon Network
4 DOWNFALL OF GAIA Suffocating In The Swarm Of Cranes Metal Blade
5 DAYLIGHT DIES A Frail Becoming Candlelight
1 BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME The Parallax II: Future Sequence Metal Blade
2 VISION OF DISORDER The Cursed Remain Cursed Candlelight
3 THIS OR THE APOCALYPSE Dead Years eOne
4 CHARIOT One Wing eOne
5 LOCAL H Hallelujah! I’m A Bum Slimstyle
6 CASPIAN Waking Season Triple Crown
7 STOLEN BABIES Naught no comment
8 GALLOWS Gallows Bridge 9
9 AS I LAY DYING Awakened Metal Blade
10 KATATONIA Dead End Kings Peaceville
Calvin Harris has been a popular act since the release of his first album I Created Disco. One of my favorite records ever was his second album Ready for the weekend. Lately though Mr. Harris has been making himself more of a household name by creating tracks for popular singers. The most popular of these songs was Rihanna’s “We found love”
So following the succes of this song Calvin Harris produced two more tracks with other popular singers.
Here is a track with Ellie Goulding that just came out in the first week of October.
And this track features Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.
More artist should copy this plan of producing for other popular acts. We as listeners win because we get new fusions of music from out favorite artists and electronic producers win by getting their names into more ipods. Also be on the lookout for Calvin Harris’s 3rd album 18 months out October 29th
Anybody who knows me knows that I am a Flying Lotus fanatic (fan) so of course I am going to blog about his new album released this month entitled “Until the Quiet Comes.”
This album continues Lotus’ move away from a hip-hop beat base into more of a melodic focused sound while still managing to keep the hip-hop feel embedded in the music. In my experience, the albums that end up defining me never stick the first time. This album is no exception. It has taken a few listens but I have started to notice and appreciate the nuances and contrasts between the pieces.
I suggest first listening to the album in its entirety when focused on something else. “Until the Quiet Comes” is like “Cosmogramma” in that it is extremely important to listen to the songs in order and without interruption, there is so much from this album that cannot be captured without the transitions from track to track. After listening to the entire album passively, grab a nice pair of earbuds and lie in bed in a dark room and really focus on the sounds this time. A nice exercise is to try and identify all the different instruments or sounds featured in a track.
So go ahead. Give it a shot. It will be time well spent.
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