Saturday, 29 September 2012

10 Great Coheed & Cambria Songs

This post has been long overdue. I guess it falls under my living legends categories as Coheed & Cambria are still touring and still making music. Typically described as a progressive rock quartet Coheed's music ranges from acoustic ballads and to heavy metal opuses. They hail from New York and even though they haven't earned mainstream airplay and superstardom, their audience is that of the global kind. Perhaps the most unique thing about Coheed and Cambria is the subject matter of the lyrics. Which we'll get to. 11 years and 5 albums later Coheed has given us plenty of material to enjoy. Here's 10 great tracks.

1. "Delerium Trigger"

Usually when you hear lyrics like "Systems malfunction; Blast it! This damned machine..." and "There in the corner. Tall short stance. It's you!" the listener would tend to think it as metaphor or allusions to deeper emotions or personal experiences of the singer. Which is fine and can be done in Coheed songs as well, but here these lines (like all CO&CA songs) are part of a large arcing story of intergalactic war and the love story between the 2 main characters named.....wait for it.....Coheed & Cambria. Their first album Second Stage Turbine Blade was released in 2002 and is actually part 2 of their 5 part saga with each album being a different part in the tale.

2. "The Running Free"

Despite how you may feel about the story of Coheed's songs it's damn near impossible to deride the quality of the actual music on their records. "The Running Free" showcases their down to earth rock sensibilities perfectly. It's a lesson in song structure and execution, but like all Coheed's songs it cannot be ignored on first listen. Lead man Claudio Sanchez's unique voice turns casual ears' into focused intrigue.

3. "Three Evils (Embodied In Love & Shadow)"

Their second album is perhaps their most popular. It contained the hit songs "A Favor House Atlantic" and "Blood Red Summer", both gained airplay on satellite radio and were used in several video games. Before the album reaches those key songs however it sneaks in this gem. Like most songs on In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 the energy on this track is dialed way up and the song itself has a momentum that builds to a heartbreaking apex. Though the lyrics are part of a fictional story when Claudio sings "...pull the trigger and the nightmare stops" the real emotion of the album comes to light which lasts long after the record is over.

4. "Far"

Coheed's latest album Year Of The Black Rainbow is actually the first installment of the story which is commonly known by the collective title "The Armory Wars". The album's theme deals with Coheed and Cambria's origins. Who they are and where they came from. "Far" is by far my favourite song on the record. It's a catchy yet dark pop song. Somewhere on the fence between a love song and a lament.

5. "Apollo I: The Writing Writer"

The crown jewel of the Coheed catalogue in my opinion is their 3rd album and it has the longest title. Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV: Volume I From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness released in 2005. From start to finish this record does not miss a beat. The story takes a bizarre turn here as well, as the focus shifts from the characters in the story to the writer of the story. The Writing Writer as he is known, seems to be transferring the pain and suffering from his own life on to the protagonists in his story and he seems to be taking some sort of direction from, of all things, a demonic ten speed.  In 2009 to prepare for the release of their last album, the group performed each album live in it's entirety over 4 nights. Filmed the motherfucker and released it to the world known simply as Neverender. I shall include the video for "Apollo I: The Writing Writer" from that concert as it kicks major ass.

6. "Here We Are Juggernaut"

While they're known for their fantastic songs one thing Coheed is notoriously NOT known for is great music videos. I've purposely avoided putting some of the official ones on this list just so they wouldn't distract from the great song. "Here We Are Juggernaut" completely smashed that cycle however. In the short 3 1/2 minute treatment the song gets it takes us on a visual and cinematic delight. With great graphics and great performances...and in my opinion a better love story than all of the Twilight saga...
Take my advice...get on an HD screen and put the video on full screen. Sit back and enjoy deserve it!

7. "The Camper Velorium I: Faint Of Hearts"

Back to 2003 for a song that showcases the band's musical proficiency. The 1st part of a 3 part song arc features a guitar solo that seemingly lasts the whole song. And with it's playful and floaty atmosphere and brilliant cadence it becomes one of the record's shining stars.

8. "Feathers"

This song comes off Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV: No World For Tomorrow which was Coheed's most experimental album often including time signatures and arrangements that were new to the band. It also had Taylor Hawkings from Foo Fighters sitting in on the drums. "Feathers" has an old time feel, like a song written in the 80's but shelved and then dusted off and repackaged with modern day methods. I'm purposely NOT putting the official video up...i watched it once...never again.

9. "Mother May I?"

Not really much to talk about when it comes to this song. Though it definitely helped me choose my favourite Coheed album. It's changing pace throughout the song might seem confusing at first, but the chorus is one of the catchiest and well performed i've ever heard. I love when a song seems so happy and innocent on the surface when in fact it's undertones are quite dark.

10. "Everything Evil"

And finally we have the quinessential Coheed and Cambria track. "Everything Evil" is textbook curriculum in epic Coheed songs 101. Slow building rhythms get dragged through dark and ambiguous lyrics to it's wailing and devastating crescendo. A fan favourite. A staple at almost every Coheed show. If you only take away one song with you from this list. Take "Everything Evil"


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

10 Great Songs Released Posthumously

Over the years we've lost many great artists, but of course we'll always have their music to remember them by and to enjoy. Sometimes the artist themselves don't get to witness the success of their own songs, but because of the demand of their fanbase and dedication of their estates we thankfully do. Here are 10 songs that were released after the artist who coined them passed away.

1. Nirvana - "You Know You're Right"

We all remember where we were when we heard of Kurt Cobain's suicide. If you're of the right age and were into that sort of music anyway. It was a monumental moment for music in the 90's, love them or hate them Nirvana changed the way music looked and sounded. Period. "You Know You're Right" was recorded about 4 months before Cobain's death and went unreleased until 2002 for the Nirvana Greatest Hits Record. Courtney Love refused to let the song be released and it was only after Grohl and Noveselic bought out her rights to the songs that the major majority got to hear it.

2. Queen - "Too Much Love Will Kill You"

Queen recorded this very prophetic song in 1988 and decided to keep it off the album they were working on and shelf it. Freddie Mercury would later announce to the world on November 23 1991 that he was suffering from AIDS and a day later he was gone. During those next difficult years Queen's remaining members happily remembered Mercury through his music and found this gem left behind. Feeling the fans would enjoy it, they included it on 1995's Made In Heaven.

3. Tupac - "Changes"

To the casual fan this is probably Tupac Shakur's best known song. The truth is Shakur loved his art so much that he literally left behind countless hours of unreleased music after his death in 1996. There's a skit in the lost 3rd season of Chappelle's Show that pokes fun at this actually. Pretty funny stuff. Earlier this year Tupac was featured as a hologram and joined Snoop Dogg on stage at Coachella music festival. If any of the entrants on this list wound up faking their deaths and turn up alive...i'm betting on Tupac.

4. Elliott Smith - "Coast To Coast"

Smith's depression was no secret. Just listen to his albums and you're brought into a darkness that seems unbearable. Obviously his sadness wasn't perpetual, but you didn't put on an Elliott Smith record and dance around the room. On Oct 21, 2003 Smith stabbed himself in the chest twice and died later in the hospital. He left behind the haunting and poetic From A Basement On The Hill which was finished by friends and family and released in 2004.

5. Selena - "Dreaming Of You"

Oh Selena...I would call this a guilty pleasure but how can I? She was a true talent and the song is delightful, eclipsed only by the fact that she never saw the success it had. 2 Weeks before the song's release Selena was murdered by the woman who once ran her fan club. I firmly believe that the Latin Music revival we saw in the late 90's would have come much earlier if Selena hadn't...well any way.

6. Otis Redding - "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay"

A plane crash took Otis Redding when he was only 26. It still baffles me that a voice with so much soul, grit and passion came from a man who was just 26 years young. He recorded "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" just three days before his death. He would never know the amount of smiles this song brought or hearts it touched. The LP The Dock Of The Bay was universally praised by critics and went on to win two Grammys in 1968.

7. Joy Division - "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

This song to this day is still the British post-punk standard that all songs of the genre are compared to. Joy Division's singer Ian Curtis was known for his isolated lyrics about death, sadness and rejection. He married young and after the divorce he hanged himself in his parent's kitchen. He was only 23. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" hit it's peak on the UK charts after Curtis' death. The phrase "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is on his tombstone.

8. Lynyrd Skynyrd - "What's Your Name"

Perhaps one of the biggest tragedies to befell the Rock world was the plane crash that claimed the lives of three of Lynyrd Skynyrd's founding members. Ronnie Van Zant, Cassie Gaines and Steve Gaines all lost their lives when the small engine plane they were in crashed in South Carolina. The album Street Survivors had been released three days prior and had to have it's cover changed as it portrayed the band surrounded by flames.  "What's Your Name" was the record's first single.

9. Jeff Buckley - "Forget Her"

Buckley's 1994 album Grace is such a masterpiece that even the songs that were cut from it are great. If you haven't heard Grace, I highly recommend it. It's one of the most important albums from the 90s. "Forget Her" was finally included on the 2004 re-release of the album. Released seven years after Jeff Buckley's accidental drowning in 1997.

10. Bran Van 3000 - "Astounded"- feat. Curtis Mayfield

Not to worry BV3000 fans. To my knowledge all of the members of the Canadian techno group are alive and well. Sadly, one of soul's most recognizable voices is not. Curtis Mayfield contributed the vocals to this song in 1999 and it was the last piece of music he laid down before his death later that year. Mayfield's resolve is the stuff of legend. His contributions to the Motown movement and funk music are countless and even after he was paralyzed in 1990 after a part of the stage rigging fell upon him, he was a beacon of inspiration. "Astounded" would later be released in 2001.

Thanks as always!


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

10 One Hit Wonders Of The 2000's

I don't know what to call that decade. I refuse to say The Oughts as some of come to do. The zeroes? The tens? The 00's? I don't think there is a term for them that rolls off the tongue easily. So i'll say it like this: Here's 10 One Hit Wonders from 2000-2009.

1. "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" - The Darkness

It was impossible to ignore this song when it came out. Whether you connected with their Hair-Metal throwback motif or not the song was catchy and would stick to your psyche. Admit it. While The Darkness were moderately successful in the UK, "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" was the only song that caught on here in North America and since then the band has had a less than stable existence. Though I heard they reformed earlier this year...time will tell I suppose.

2. "Angels On The Moon" - Thriving Ivory

This song was written in the wake of 9/11 but it wasn't released until Thriving Ivory's self-titled major label debut in 2008. It's one of those songs that was used in countless moody scenes in dramatic TV shows, so it's lifespan has been definitely prolonged.

3. "Jerk It Out" - Caesars

Caesars are a band from Sweden who's only claim to fame outside of their native country is the infectious and habit forming groove "Jerk It Out". It rose to fame after being featured in an iPod commercial. Such a medium has also helped other foreign bands break through in North America, like Jet and The Fratellis.

4. "Since I Left You" - The Avalanches

This one just slips in under the wire. The Avalanches were an Australian electro-pop group known for creating songs out of countless samples and hooks from other songs. Their debut album of the same name was written and recorded in the late 90's and into early 2000 and was finally released in November of that year. The song "Since I Left You" is a masterpiece. Stitched together from songs by artists like Main Attraction, The Duprees and Tony Mottola. It's a dream-like song that can stop the listener in their tracks and takes them to a place in their mind long forgotten and missed. The Avalanches second album has been in the works since 2005, here's hoping lightning can strike twice. The video for this is great too.

5. "Move Your Feet" - Junior Senior

"Move Your Feet" is the best known song by Danish pop duo Junior Senior. It's notoriety has perhaps helped along by it's animated music video that consists of pixelated animation that resembles something out of MS Paint.  The members of Junior Senior split in 2008 to pursue solo projects, leaving "Move Your Feet" as the pair's nadir.

6. "Finding Out True Love Is Blind" - Louis XIV

Louis XIV formed in 2003 in San Diego, California and are best known for their garage rock single "Finding Out True Love Is Blind". The single had all the sexual innuendos and suggestive lyrics the band became known for and eventually banned from the state of Alabama for. The band broke up in 2008. No more carrot juice!

7. "Wherever You Will Go" - The Calling

Ahhh The Calling...this one takes me back. I never know what to think about these guys. It seems like they got caught between the two decades and were never given a fair shot. Some felt they were a boy-band with instruments, others lumped them in with the likes of Creed and that's the kiss of death right there. "Wherever You Will Go" was their first and biggest hit coming out in early 2001. After which The Calling had a few line up changes and decided to call it quits in 2005.

8.  "Almost Lover" - A Fine Frenzy

Perhaps it's too early to call this young lady a one hit wonder. It can be taken as an insult to most artists after all. A Fine Frenzy dropped "Almost Lover" on us in 2007 and hasn't had a notable song in North America since. Some of her songs have gotten airplay internationally, but definitely not anything to write home about. I'll include her, but still have hopes to hear more greatness from Alison Sudol (real name) in the future. There's just something about a girl and a piano.

9. "Shut Your Mouth" - Pain

Another international entrant on the list. Pain are from Sweden and are known for their fusion of heavy metal and techno. "Shut Your Mouth" was their cross over the ocean hit. Short, bitter and to the point. Catchy from the get go and full of energy which is exactly what one would expect from a Swedish metal band. Some funny stuff going on in the video too.

10. "House Of Jealous Lovers" - The Rapture

I don't get how a song can be released and not get noticed, then a year later it's re-released and it's a huge hit. That's what happened with "House Of Jealous Lovers" by The Rapture. First came out in 2002 to no one's excitement and then got noticed a year later. OK, maybe calling this a huge hit is a stretch but it's a fantastic song, brimming with New York underground energy. It's a catchy song, but interesting at the same time. Rock music that you can dance to, how long has it been since you've heard someone say that?

Thanks again!!

Look for a big list coming up soon!!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

10 Great Rainy Day Songs

As soon as I write a list about bright sunny days and warm summer nights the rain rolls in. Which is fine, sometimes there is nothing more soothing than listening to rain falling above us. Most pathetic fallacy deals with sorrow and despair when rain is involved...but try stopping for a minute when you're in a good mood. When the rain is falling. The feeling seems to last just a little longer. 10 Great Rainy Day songs.

1. "Silver and Cold" - AFI

AFI were instrumental in bringing "emo" music to the mainstream in the early 00's. Perhaps it was their lead singer's dress and sombre lyrics that provided ammunition in many people's rage against "emo" who viewed it as a juvenile and effeminate genre. However you feel about it, I hope you can see passed all that and hear the remarkable music and heart within the song "Silver and Cold"

2. "Mandolin Rain" - Bruce Hornsby & The Range

This one takes me back. Bruce Hornsby was a fantastic song writer and no album exemplified that more than 1986's The Way It Is. "Mandolin Rain"'s first piano chords just scream of nostalgia and the song weaves a tale of someone being reminded of a lost love when the rain comes down. It's got perfect pacing and clever use of a mandolin throughout the song. Demands more attention.

3. "Rain" - Breaking Benjamin

This isn't too obvious is it? Breaking Benjamin released their debut in 2002 but it was 2004's We Are Not Alone that got them noticed as it featured many notable tracks. Some which were assisted in the writing department by Billy Corgan. This was one of them.

4. "Thank You" - Dido

No Eminem won't start rapping in this one. Dido's breakout single "Thank You" first got noticed when it was sampled on Eminem's track "Stan". The song is wearing a gloomy costume of someone having a terrible day and things just not going right, but it's actually a happy song. Well written and executed perfectly, though it seems Dido has slipped off the map on this side of the Atlantic lately. Here's hoping we hear more like this from her.

5. "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" - Travis

Some bands name themselves something clever or deep and meaningful, others come up with something funny that becomes normal over time and yet still others name their band like a child. Just as Scotland's Travis did. "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" is from the near perfect album The Man Who which was released in May 1999. The song is said to have magic powers. Ask the attendees of the 1999 Glastonbury Festival. Throughout the day it was bright and sunny, until Travis rolled into this song. It began to rain almost immediately.

6. "Epiphany" - Staind

OK sometimes it really sucks when it's raining. Or it can turn an already shitty day even shittier. So if you need a morose track to let you know that someone else has had a tough go, try "Epiphany" by Staind.

7. "It's Raining Again" - Supertramp

From 1982's Famous Last Words "It's Raining Again" is Supertramp's lost single...but it will get stuck inside your head. Doesn't matter what Supertramp is singing about it always seems upbeat and happy. Sadly they were never able to recapture the success of Breakfast In America & Crime Of The Century's one two punch of awesomeness, but it's good to find these little gems they dropped on their way out.

8. "I Love The Rain The Most" - Joe Purdy

I know i've mentioned Joe Purdy before on here, but this could possibly be my most favourite rain song. The stillness of it. The feeling that he as stuck in his house with nothing else to do but pick up his guitar and play something. You can almost hear the rain in the background on the can definitely hear it in his voice.

9. "Fool In The Rain" - Led Zeppelin

This was Led Zeppelin's final charting song off their final album In Through The Out Door. While the band was never fully satisfied with many of the album's still is a great track to listen to. The song conjures images of some long haired hippie dancing in the rain. The song is about someone waiting for a woman on a street corner and thinks he's been stood up. Then he realizes he's just on the wrong block. Silly wet hippie.

10. "Midnight Rain" - Wide Mouth Mason

Saskatchewan's Wide Mouth Mason blew on to the scene in 1997 with "Midnight Rain". Though the song is not really about rain, merely named after it, I felt it was a strong way to finish this list. Wide Mouth Mason are still kick and even though bass player Earl Pereira has vacated former Big Sugar front man Gordie Johnson has gleefully stepped in.

Now shut everything off and just listen to the rain for a while