Alternative Rock

Music Pick: Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come

 
Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come

Music Pick - Refused - The Shape Of Punk To Come

New Noise
The Deadly Rhythm
Liberation Frequency
The Shape of Punk to Come

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Refused - Band - HustleBear.com

Look at that knob on your sound system. How high can the volume go? Put it there. My friends, it is TIME to turn up your speakers full blast and piss off your parents, that old lady who lives next door, and awaken all the spirits resting peacefully in the ground below over the last several centuries. Nothing less will do justice to some of the most badass music ever recorded.

Enough of this dance chillout I’ve been reviewing lately, let’s try something heavier. We’re going with something hardcore. I’m in the mood. With this Music Pick I’m gonna introduce you to some nostalgia from my teenage years, one of the most genius and carefully crafted bursts of dirty raw energy I’ve ever heard. Refused. The album liner notes showcase a brilliant quote I suggest you live your life by.

“If a band ever finds that it is not giving their best effort and playing at the edge of their abilities at all times, then they are not playing the kind of music that they should be playing.”

Refused - Band - HustleBear.comThe theme here is Break The Rules. This album is a protest. No. This is a premeditated ATTACK. Not against the mainstream. It’s an attack against punk. Yes the conservative hardline traditions and strict guidelines of what punk music is allowed to be.

“We made this album (The Shape of Punk to Come ) wanting to challenge people’s preconceptions of what a Punk band could be and what it could play, because Punk is the most conservative musical form there is. Even in Hardcore, there are so many rules about what is and what is not acceptable, and that completely negates the whole spirit of the original idea.” Dennis Lyxzén, Refused

Refused - Singer - Dennis Lyxzén - HustleBear.comBy definition I HATE screamo-hardcore, and I usually don’t like punk, but I love LOVE Refused. Indeed these guys are way too good to be playing to this crappy genre.

I will say it here right now: New Noise is one of the greatest songs ever recorded. I’m not going to even bother explaining its genius. Just play it LOUD, on repeat, study it, breathe it, and don’t stop until you start to realize how shallow your view of reality was before. Here’s a test for you: After you press play on New Noise, see if you can manage to stay still and not jump around wildly.

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Music Pick of the Day – Ours/Jimmy Gnecco (part 2 of 2) Mercy

 
Ours – Mercy

Music Pick of the Day - Ours

Mercy
The Worst Thing Beautiful
God Only Wants You
Live Again
Willing

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Tortured. Glorious. Sad. Aggressive. Beautiful. Powerful. Brilliant. Epic. Jimmy Gnecco’s music is intense. Jimmy Gnecco is Ours (essentially), and I’d say he’s the most talented vocalist in rock music today. His range is incredible and there’s so much feeling in his voice. It’s obvious the late Jeff Buckley is a massive influence, which is a good thing, because Jeff Buckley was the most talented vocalist in rock music ever.
Mercy, Ours’ 3rd album, is a continuation of their debut Distorted Lullabies, but everything is ratcheted up several notches, boundaries pushed and he went even darker; enough that Jimmy Gnecco is no longer a Jeff Buckley clone, but is unmistakably recognized for his own sound.
Jimmy Gnecco looking like Jeff BuckleyI waited 6 years for Mercy to finally come out 2008. It kept getting pushed back again and again. I had heard songs from it at live shows back in 2002. It was being recorded with Rick Rubin, a legendary producer; yet I was scared I’d be disappointed. Ours’ second album Precious WAS so disappointing. But Mercy shocked me and blew me away.
The album starts with the title track “Mercy” which is one of my favorite songs ever. Gorgeous, atmospheric, aggressive and intense.
The next song “The Worst Thing Beautiful” is fantastic. If it was recorded by U2 it would be their next big hit blowing up the airwaves. Except it’s a bit more edgy than U2. Still this is the album’s most accessible song, I don’t know why it wasn’t pushed hard enough and turned into a major hit.
“God Only Wants You” is truly haunting. It’s strange to hear the piano over the arpeggio guitar, I loved when he played this song acoustic live back in the day. Anyway whatever, this is such a beautiful song.
“Live Again” is intense! Whoa! Opens with a Marilyn Manson like edge. Gorgeous, deranged and heavy.
“Willing” is cool. Another U2 inspired song that’s accessible enough to have been a radio hit.
Muse is a cool band. Ours is better, and should have had that kind of success. Unfortunately this album didn’t get the backing it deserved. It’s true that this album isn’t 100% consistent. There are some low points that I skip past (Saint), but the high points are epic, original, and lay a path for others to follow.

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Ours (part 1 of 2)

 
Ours – Distorted Lullabies

Music Pick of the Day - Ours

Fallen Souls
Here is the Light
Sometimes
Medication
Dancing Alone

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I played the shit out of this album when I was about 22. A couple years before, I discovered Jeff Buckley and he quickly became my favorite musician ever, certainly the best rock singer ever. Sad to discover him a couple years after he died, and to know that there will be no new music or concerts to ever look forward to. Enter Jimmy Gnecco, who for all intents and purposes is the band Ours. I’m certain many Jeff Buckley fans look to Jimmy Gnecco as the continuation of Jeff Buckley’s legacy, as if he’s still alive and there’s new quality albums from him coming out. There’s just no denying it, Jimmy Gnecco is channeling Jeff Buckley. And no one is complaining. Sure, Jimmy Gnecco is darker and much more rock focused and he screams a lot more, but It’s scary, he even looks just like Jeff Buckley in the album art.

jimmy gnecco of ours looking like jeff buckley Jeff Buckley compared with Jimmy Gnecco
Jimmy Gnecco Jeff Buckley

The opening song “Fallen Souls” kicks ass, and I love how despite its aggressive metal energy it pulls you into a beautiful trance. My favorite song is probably “Here Is The Light”, gorgeous, intense and tortured. “Dancing Alone” is so bitter-sweet, should have been a hit single.
I fell in love with this cd when I was younger, and after listening to it again I remember why.

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – The Cardigans

 
The Cardigans – Long Gone Before Daylight

Music Pick of the Day - The Cardigans

Communication
You’re The Storm
And Then You Kissed Me
Feathers and Doom
No Sleep

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I love when a band completely abandons their sound, reinvents themselves, and actually comes up with something much BETTER. Man did The Cardigans vindicate themselves from their cheesy radio pop days a la “Lovefool“. I didn’t hate them at all back then, just wasn’t into it. “Gran Turismo” did show a lot of promise in the electronic pop genre. But “Long Gone Before Daylight“, this is a beautiful masterpiece. Dropping the electronic thing for a mostly acoustic singer/songwriter feel. Very personal and bare. But the songs are still detailed and creatively developed. Her singing is on another level from before. It’s hard to believe this is an entirely new sound for them. “And Then You Kissed Me” is tender and edgy, a song about the joys of relationship violence, that could possibly offend a few feminists. Ok, this is not masculine music, but I’m not ashamed to admit I’m in love with this album.

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Archive (part 4 of 4)

 Archive – Controlling Crowds I-IV

Music Pick of the Day - Archive: Controlling Crowds

Pills
The Empty Bottle
Dangervisit
Quiet Time
Chaos
Razed to the Ground

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You could say this is a worthy sequel to Archive’s masterpiece “You All Look The Same To Me”. It is a concept album, only it’s not a 70s progressive rock throwback, it’s modern and proud. And it’s far more ambitious. Consequently, it’s less accessible. Not perfect, it has its misses, but regardless, this is a monumental achievement.
A complex concept double album, it all mixes together and flows with purpose, an attempt of something like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” for this generation. Sometimes the material is Archive’s most accessible, sometimes their most ‘out there’. Controlling Crowds has many creative highs, and a few lows. Archive is pushing boundaries here, their own boundaries and the boundaries of music.
They did bring back their rapper… BUT, holy shit, it’s actually quite good this time. I’m not kidding! I don’t like rap at all, but the underlying song is creative and the vibe actually fits in well with the rest of the album (check out Quiet Time). On songs like Pills and The Empty Bottle they find a perfect mix of Electronica with Rock sensibility. Despite any flaws, this double album is amazing, and cements Archive as one of the most creative forces in music today.

My favorite Archive albums are still “Londinium” and “You All Look The Same To Me”

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Archive (part 3 of 4)

 Archive – Lights

Music Pick of the Day - Archive: Lights

Lights
Headlights
Programmed
I Will Fade

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“Lights” is a very mixed bag. There’s nothing consistent here that makes the songs feel like they belong together on the same album. I love half the album, the other half irritates me. When they’re good, they’re amazing, and there are some gems here. The highlight is the monster 18 1/2 minute title track song “Lights”. Another ambient slow build electronic rock masterpiece by the boys of Archive. Like the song “Again” from their album “You All Look The Same To Me”, “Lights” exists on a different time dimension than other music you listen to. It doesn’t rush itself, but lets you absorb it deep.
There is a brief return to their Trip Hop roots with the song Headlights. There’s several faster songs that rock out, and they’re cool musically, but ruined by the singer resorting to annoying monotone shouts.
(I skipped reviewing their 4th album “Noise”, for the same reason that while the music is pretty cool there, the singing annoys me)

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Archive (part 2 of 4)

 
Archive – You All Look the Same to Me

Music Pick of the Day - Archive: You All Look The Same To Me

Again
Sham
Meon
Finding It So Hard
Fool
Need

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Archive completely reinvented themselves with this album, you won’t believe this is from the same musicians as Londinium. Which would be really upsetting, because their Trip Hop sound was so well executed and influential; until… you hear this! Wow Wow. This album is even better. Genius. Beautiful. Mesmerizing.
The album begins with “Again”, one of the coolest songs ever recorded. Yeah it’s over 16 minutes, but it’s worth it. Listen to it in full and don’t skip through, you’ll ruin the deliberate buildup. Let yourself absorb it and follow the journey as it slowly develops. Everything about the song is stellar, except maybe the lyrics. But who cares? This is something special; starting off with organs, acoustic guitar and harmonica, the subtle textures, the progression, the production, even the singing.
This is electronic infused 70’s progressive guitar rock. Female lounge singer is out. Rapper is out [thank you god]. Male rock singer is in. If this album was simply released as Pink Floyd’s latest work in the new millennium it would received unlimited publicity heralding the return of the gods. Archive has mastered a totally different sound and has surpassed themselves here.
(btw, this is their third album, I skipped reviewing Archive’s second album “Take My Head” because… well, they lost their way there and it’s mostly painful and embarrassing, don’t bother with it.)

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – The Cure

 
The Cure – Disintegration

Music Pick of the Day - The Cure

Love Song
Pictures of You
Fascination Street
Plainsong
Untitled

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Holy fuck!
Many of my favorite bands were heavily influenced by The Cure. So many friends that I respect love The Cure. And I’ve always responded with “Yeah, they’re ok, not really into them.”
I only just heard “Disintegration”. Wow! Now I understand. This is truly epic.
This is the spacier, darker, prettier side of The Cure.
If this album didn’t happen in 1989 I think music today would be worse.

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Does It Offend You, Yeah?

 
Does It Offend You, Yeah? – You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into

Music Pick of the Day - Does It Offend You, Yeah?

With A Heavy Heart (I Regret to Inform You)
We Are Rockstars
Dawn of the Dead
Doomed Now
Epic Last Song

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These guys are definitely one of the best electro house indie 80s new wave synth-pop punk metal hardcore raver break-beat bands out there. Yeah, this album is ALL OVER the place. Nothing is consistent here except insanity and genius. I am SO impressed. I think the album title just about sums it up. It’s not that these different styles haven’t been done before, but their attitude and take on everything is fresh, so unique and so much fun. “Does it Offend You, Yeah?” is definitely not for everyone, and even my first jarring impression left me wondering what the fuck is wrong with these maniacs. I forced myself to try and figure out just how anyone could actually enjoy this (an exercise I often do with adored bands I’m not feeling) until it quickly grew on me to the point where I felt bored with everything else. The only song here I still just can’t get into is “Attack of the 60ft Lesbian Octopus”; it’s too ‘eating paint and bouncing off the walls’ for me. Some of the songs here do sound like they’d fit right into place on The Killers’ “Hot Fuss” album, but those pieces are excellent and much better than what the Killers are putting out lately anyway.
This album slams with a sledgehammer, and yet it maintains a high level of subtlety and sophistication, while it incites rebellious disobedience, out of control slam dancing, and a deep philosophical reexamination of the purpose of music.
I can’t wait for their next album due out hopefully sometime this year.
(Free tip for guys: If your romantic overtures aren’t working and some girl is giving you a lot of shit; change up the mood, put this cd on loud starting with track 2 [“With a Heavy Heart”] and she’ll know not to fuck around anymore) ;)

[Video after the break]

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Music Pick of the Day – Josh Rouse

 
Josh Rouse – 1972

Music Pick of the Day - Josh Rouse

Come Back (Light Therapy)
Love Vibrations
James
1972
Rise

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Josh Rouse used to make indie alt-country rock. Now he’s on a spanish music kick. Everything he does is quite good. But his album “1972” is a unique gem. That’s the year he was born and he made an album that sounds like it actually came from 1972. He nailed the sound and spirit of the era, while bringing a modern element to it. The album is just so clever. Intelligent and fun and epic.

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