Monday, 26 May 2014

10 Great Songs By Side Projects

Being in a band can sometimes feel like working for a company. A bunch of people come together for one common goal...whatever that goal is.  While it's true most bands are a business at the end of the day, there are still artists within that business and they more often than not need to let some creativiity out. If for some reason they feel it's not getting out in the band they're in, a side project is often the answer. Sometimes they join forces with other musicians or simply spit something out on their own. Here are 10 Great Songs by some of these Side Projects.

1. The Postal Service - "Sleeping In"

Ben Gibbard became a well known feature in the American Alt-rock scene with his band Death Cab For Cutie. After he helped out on Dntel's album Life Is Full Of Possibilities he and Jim Tamborello (producer of Dntel) began mailing each other pieces of music and The Postal Service was born.  Their debut album (and only album to date) Give Up was released in 2003 to rave reviews. Featuring poppy synth beats being fused with introspective and honest lyrics it left a massive congregation of fans wanting more. 10 years later they'd get their wish when The Postal Service released 2 new tracks to commemorate the 10th year anniversary.

2. Probot - "Shake Your Blood"

Dave Grohl is one of those guys who probably releases music even in his dreams. Getting his feet wet as the drummer in Nirvana, Grohl would rise to the top and sit on the throne of 90's rock as the front man of Foo Fighters. Feeling he still wasn't getting his heavy metal itch scratched he unveiled Probot in 2004. Probot was Grohl's love letter to the metal scene and wrote the majority of the songs on the album with certain heavy acts in mind. On the song 'Shake Your Blood' Motorhead front man Lemmy, contributed the bass lines and wrote the lyrics he sang. Lemmy figured it took him about 10 minutes.

3. Puscifer - "The Humbling River"

Some people need a side project to express themselves differently from how their original band is perceived. If your Maynard Keenan you need a side project to escape from your side project. Keenan known primarily as the front man for Metal band Tool, started A Perfect Circle in 2000 as a get away from that. In 2003 he contributed a song to the Underworld soundtrack and released it under the moniker Puscifer. Since then any music he feels doesn't fit within the hemispheres of either Tool or APC are released as Puscifer.

4. Black Star - "Definition"

In 1998 two already established MCs in the world of Hip-Hop got together and gave us the gift of Black Star. They were Mos Def and Taleb Kweli. In a time when the turmoil of the East Coast/West Coast rap battles cumulated with deaths of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, Black Star came in to raise awareness of the dangers of idolizing such a lifestyle and were also praised for their social and political messages in their lyrics. Though it wasn't a chart smashing album the respect it gained inside and outside of Hip Hop was immeasurable.

5. Hot Snakes - "If Credit's What Matters, I'll Take The Credit"

Sometimes what was intended to be a side project grows into something much more permanent. Hot Snakes was started in 2000 by John Reis of Rocket From The Crypt. Along with members from other bands like Drive Like Jehu, Obits and Sultans he released Automatic Midnight in 2000 and it also became the first record released on his own Swami label. Hot Snakes would go on to release 2 more albums in 2002 and 2004. To this day they still continue to pop up here and there for "reunion" shows, even though they never really broke up, because they were always only a side project.

6. Foxboro Hot Tubs - "Mother Mary"

Typically a side project comes along when a single member of a band feels the need to break away and try something new, or simply do a solo project. In the case of The Foxboro Hot Tubs an entire band simply changed their name for one album, that band was Green Day. The garage-rock pseudo-group came from a late night recording session and also includes Kevin Preston along with all 3 members of Green Day. Originally they tried to pass themselves off as a new up and coming group, but Billie Joe Armstrong's unmistakable voice gave them away. The name Foxboro Hot Tubs comes from an unfinished housing development Green Day used to hang out in a drink as youths

7. Blood Orange - "Chamakay"

Dev Hynes is a British singer, composer and producer known for his work in Lightspeed Champion and also his involvement with folk act Bright Eyes. In 2009 Hynes started working on an electronica project and named it Blood Orange. With a few of his other acts either finished or on hiatus Blood Orange gained more and more attention. To date he has release 2 Blood Orange albums including the critically acclaimed Cupid Deluxe in 2013.

8. Eagles Of Death Metal - "Wanna Be In LA"

Writing, recording and releasing music is another automatic function of Josh Homme, like breathing or blinking. Known best as the hulking front man of Queens of the Stone Age, one of his first side projects was the hilariously named Eagles Of Death Metal. Though he famously quipped that he didn't have a side project and was actually just in two bands at the same time. Their most successful album was 2008's Heart On. Homme always started Them Crooked Vultures with fellow musical schizo Dave Grohl.

9. Fort Minor - "Where'd You Go"

Linkin Park were one of the biggest heavy metal acts of the 2000's. Known for crunching power chords and throat slicing screams, some of their charm came from the bits of hip-hop that got occasionally tossed itnto their songs. Mike Chioda was the guy responsible for that, or "the guy who raps in Linkin Park songs" so it should come to the surprise of no one that he released a hip-hop album himself under the moniker Fort Minor. The Rising Tied was released in 2005 and reviews were generally favourable. Chioda consulted with his friend and former collaborator Jay-Z about the album, though I don't believe Jay appears on the record.

10. Box Car Racer - "There Is"

Jason Newsted might be able to sympathize with Box Car Racer. When Newsted felt his creativity wasn't getting out enough in Metallica and front man James Hetfield was not onboard with one of his side project's moving to the next level, Newsted walked. Similarly in Blink 182, Tom Delonge (guitars/vox) and Travis Barker (drums) felt a bit confined to the pop-punk brand of Blink and started playing a more acoustic oriented style. The third member of Blink Mark Hoppus resented that Delonge had not wanted him in the group feeling it would turn into just another Blink 182 album under Hoppus' control. Delonge also claimed Barker was only asked to join so he wouldn't have to hire a studio drummer. After all these years, and only one Boxcar Racer album to speak of, this little side project is still a point of contention between the members of Blink. Additionally it was one of the alleged reasons for their initial break up.

Thanks again for reading....

I know I keep saying i'm gonna try to update more

I will...i'll try to try to update more


Monday, 5 May 2014

10 Great Songs Inspired By True Events

Inspiration for song writing can come from anywhere. A personal experience that is tearing you apart inside, a dream or just some piece of fiction that you decided to add music to. Of course there are also songs that are written about true, historical events. The artists must have been either so moved or bemused about that happenings that they just had to record a song about them. Some of which got so popular that the meanings got lost over the years and forgotten. Well i'm gonna dig some of those up today. Here are ten great songs inspired by real events.

1. "Locked In The Trunk Of A Car" - The Tragically Hip

The Tragically Hip have many songs inspired by real events that I could have chosen. "Wheat Kings", "50 Mission Cap" and "Nautical Disaster" all come to mind, but i'm going to focus on "Locked In The Trunk Of A Car". It is written from the perspective of Pierre Laporte who was once Quebec's Minister of Labour. Laporte was kidnapped in 1970 by members of the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ) an extremist group based on Marxist and separatist ideals. They forced him into the trunk of their car at gunpoint in front of members of his family. He was found dead a week later.

2. "I Fought The Law" - The Dead Kennedys

"I Fought The Law" is a classic song that was written back in the 60's and has been performed by several artists since such as the Bobby Fuller Four and The Clash. In 1987 the punk band Dead Kennedys released their version of the song, though the group changed the perspective of the song to be sung by San Fransico politician Dan White who murdered the Mayor of SF George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978. In their version the main lyric is changed to "I fought the law and I won" implying that White committed first degree murder and got away with it. The song even references White's famous "Twinkie Defense" stating that he was clouded by a brief bout of insanity brought on by consuming Twinkies.

3. "Ohio" - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Known as one of the most famous protest songs of modern times "Ohio" was written in direct response to the Kent State shootings of 1970. During a protest of the Cambodian Campaign at Kent State University the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of unarmed students. Killing 4 and severely wounding several others. This event lead to more protests and strikes during an already turbulent time for the US in the mess that was the Vietnam War.

4. "The Rising" - Bruce Springsteen

Folks in my generation will never forget where they were on 9/11. On September 11, 2001 at around 9am a passenger airliner (a boeing 767) slammed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, followed shortly by another. In total four hijacked airplanes were crashed deliberately into American soil (the 3rd hit the Pentagon and the 4th was crashed into a farm outside Washington DC). Like all events of such magnitude and terror musicians soon began to release music inspired by the attacks. One of the first was Springsteen's "The Rising" which was more of a tribute to the Fire Fighters and emergency personnel who risked everything on that day. Lyrics like "On my back's a sixty pound stone; On my shoulder a half mile of line" are direct homages to New York City's finest.

5. "Smoke On The Water" - Deep Purple

Before we all get too morose here with all these terrible stories let's do one a little more light hearted. If any of you out there play the electric guitar it's a good chance "Smoke On The Water" was one of the first songs you learned how to play. In 1971 Deep Purple were looking for a place to record their album that would eventually become Machine Head. They had settled on the Casino in Montreaux, Switzerland, where Frank Zappa was performing. The night before the band was scheduled to begin recording, someone had fired a flare gun during the Zappa show which brought the Casino down in flames. Bass player Roger Glover remembers seeing the scene from across the lake which coined the term "Smoke On The Water"

6. "April 29, 1992" - Sublime

This one is unique on the list because not only is the band performing this song inspired by certain events, they claim to have been involved in them. On April 29, 1992 4 LA police officers were acquitted of the assault and the use of excessive force on Rodney King, which many feel ignited the ire of many of LA's Black and Latino communities and led to the LA Riots. Sublime singer Bradley Nowell claims in the song that most of the musical instruments used on their 1996 album were acquired illegally during those riots, and suggests that it wasn't the verdict that led to the chaos but the general low quality of life in these neighbourhoods and the injustice they dealt with every day.

7. "Leatherman" - Pearl Jam

The Leatherman in this song is a particular vagabond of unknown Origin who traveled from the Connecticut River to the Hudson on a monthly basis in the late 1800's. He lived in rock shelters along his route and was consistent with his appearances in towns for food and supplies. He was called Leatherman because all of his clothes, even his hat, were made from handcrafted custom leather. He seemed content enough to be on his own and was known to be grateful for the supplies he received though no one was quite sure how he got his money. He was found dead in 1889 with a French prayer book in his possession which led to the belief he was French-Canadian. The song itself was a deleted track from Pearl Jam's 1997 album Yield.

8. "Hey Man, Nice Shot" - Filter

It is said that Filter front man Richard Patrick wrote "Hey Man, Nice Shot" about two individuals: the first being Kurt Cobain and the second being Bud Dwyer. Dwyer was a Pennsylvanian politician who was convicted of taking bribes from accounting firms for a multi-million dollar contract he was heading. On January 22, 1987 he called a press conference and in front of a room full of reporters and a live television audience he pulled a revolver out from a bag and shot himself in the head.

9. "Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)" - The Arcade Fire

Though the lyrics for "Neighbourhood #3" are rather ambiguous, there is evidence that it was somewhat inspired by the 1998 Ice Storm that left Montreal, Quebec without power for over a week. Lyrics like "Kids are swinging from the power lines" are probably leftovers from singer Regine Chassange's memory as she was living in Montreal at the time of the storm. Funeral is a fantastic album actually, if you are looking for a  band to get into check The Arcade Fire out.

10. "The Way" - Fastball

In June of 1997 Lela and Raymond Howard left their home in Salado, Texas with the intent of attending a near by festival. They weren't seen or heard from for two weeks when their van was discovered at the bottom of ravine nearly 100 miles away from their intended destination. Fastball lead man Tony Scalzo read of the couple in the paper and decided to add a different layer to their story. "The Way" is a reimagining of what happened to the Howards, Scalzo retold the tale as if they left to have fun and leave their lives behind them.

Thanks again all!!

Let's hear some comments and suggestions for future lists!!!