The Hated Opinionated One

Posts Tagged ‘Acoustic’

The Spores Make Doom Popular

Posted by C. Cue on March 2, 2009


When you hear the words Doom & Pop put together for an album title, you don’t quite know exactly what to expect. The Spores released an album with just that name Doom Pop. It’s not something that you hear everyday. Your mind gets slightly confused at such a combination. Everything from Metal with Britney Spears lyrics to Timbaland music with Death Growls featured over top run through your mind. Yet, The Spores didn’t do any of that. What they did do was create an album that embodies everything(damn near literally) that folks of mainstream media loved in the mid to late 90’s. Every song, they seem to replicate the same magic of bands from “Generation NeXt.”

“Ghost Town” finds the LA-based threesome giving us some awesome Pop Alternative that has been missing from the scene since Garbage went AWOL. Molly McGuire voice goes into Shirley Manson mode even better than Ms. Manson did on Garbage’s last LP. Greg Biribauer’s guitar work on this song would make Butch Vig blush. Chris Penny’s drum work is spot on for Pop Rock of the last decade. It keeps your foot tapping and your head swaying. McGuire herself brings the bass on with such sass that it’s impossible to not imagine the woman wearing that “I own you” face. The cat & mouse game of two people wanting(or, just lusting) each other is told on this track. Never able to match each other, the two parties are forced to contradict one another. It’s a great track.

Completely switching gears, the band’s song “That’s My Name,” gives one of the best NIN emulations that I’ve ever heard. But, the thing is, it’s not a NIN cover. No, not at all. It’s a track owned completely by The Spores(no, Reznor doesn’t even know this song exist, folks). Yet, the attention to detail and the all out ballsy display of Alternative Industrial will have you scratching your head on this one. Not for being lost, but for feeling like you know it already. Familiarity, in this case, is a damned good thing. You’re instantly drawn in like you’re greeting an old friend that you enjoyed spending time with. McGuire, Biribauer & Penny go strong for this track. The breakdowns are top-notch. Molly doesn’t ever yell or scream on the song. Instead, she plays it smart like Free Dominguez of Kidneythieves. She keeps her voice strong and steady. Letting the lyrics & the music get the attention that they deserve(even though the first & second verses are exactly the same). Greg takes on the role of Robin Finck, and does a flooring performance. Penny seems to be the Dave Grohl from With Teeth sessions. To say that this song is my favorite track on this album would be an understatement. This is my favorite track not only from this LP, but my official track of the month. If this three piece decided to go completely industrial(which from this display shows that they could with great ease), this song could have done for them what Closer did for Nine Inch Nails. Yes, it’s that powerful. At least I feel so . . . “In My Head.”

“Secret Weapon” comes on with a deceptive electronic intro. The collusion of sounds that follows after takes you like a storm. This track sounds like something missing from the Spawn OST for the live action movie(the soundtrack was kickass, and you know it!). With electronic alterations lacing nearly every instrument involved in this recording, you don’t know where to classify this. Still, you know that if 90’s MTV got their hands on this, it would be in heavy rotation on their video line-up. This is best suited as a sort of poppier companion to Filter+The Crystal Method’s (Can’t You) Trip Like I Do. Yes, The Spores can trip . . . like you do.

To show that they aren’t all about explicit electronic usage, “Do The Void” comes in with a Jimmy Eat World(circa Clarity/Bleed American) vibe. It’s that Pop Alternative with Punk Influences that was formerly known as “Emo”(which was before it was redubbed in ’05, kiddies). Even the lyrics encompasses the same mentality of that era: “Never should have ever thought of nothing at all.” That displays the whole “ehhh . . . so what” attitude that started then and still lives on to this day.

When they move over to the sexual side of electronic, they unleash “Shadyglade.” They pull off something similar to old school Tricky/Massive Attack . . . or, to a less popular extent, Lamb with this song. Biribauer’s mini solo after the choruses has an intoxicating exotic flare that makes the song that much more memorable. The track is almost entirely electronic save for a very small number of elements. It’s as seductive as it is digital. “The Spinning Wheel” is the complete opposite of this. It’s the Yin to Shadyglade’s Yang. Pulling out the acoustic guitar, the song is equally as intimate, but on a completely different level. A tale of love for someone who is trying to let go of yester-longing, only to find out that it’s still haunting. This is for all the Jewel & Fiona Apple fans.

This album has everything anyone who loved watching MTV before running off to school would adore. This plays like a sensational mixtape of various styles and acts . . . yet, it’s all from one band. And, mainly the work of just Molly & Greg outside of drumming, at that. The comparisons of the other bands are FAR from anything to be given as disrespect to the bands or towards The Spores. Doom Pop, as it seems, isn’t anything new . . . but rather something cool that is lost today. What does hurt is the fact that the band has split . . . or is just on hiatus. Hopefully, they’ll work out their differences and continue to bring their awesomeness to the world. The album is heavily underappreciated for what it does, and what it could do. With just one slip of major play, McGuire & Biribauer could have(and still can) end up resurrectors to an era recently passed but so wrongly deceased.



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Alt-Ctrl-Sleep Resets Your Heart’s Cluttered Hard Drive

Posted by C. Cue on August 26, 2008

I have a soft spot for these Girl-Guy bands where the 2 main/prominent members are in a relationship together. Something about the way that they are able to make beautiful music together is just splendid, to me(pun intended). One of the bands that actually got me into the growing underground trend is the mesmerizing Alt-Ctrl-Sleep. No, it’s not a computer button combination. There’s nothing mechanical about their music. It’s majestic and enchanting in a way that has become sparingly rare in the last few years. Their self-titled album released in February of 2008 was one that received little buzz and even less marketable attention. Which, honestly, is purely criminal in every sense of the words “creative” and “artistic.”

“Take Care” opens the album and on a note that transcends both time and emotion. Joe Diaco soothingly serenades both the listener and his equally musically incline wife & bandmate April at the same time. You can hear the delicate intimacy in the song. They borrow the essence of music from the mid to late 60’s. When schoolboys would become eager and bashful for the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance, and girls would brag to their friends that the boy they were dating “Pinned” them(and, no, that isn’t perverted. If you don’t know what that term is, ask your parents or someone in their 50’s). There’s just nothing wrong with the song. You can’t find a flaw in it. I’ve tried. It resulted in me just falling more into the blissful floating sensation that comes from letting the song take over everything. That doesn’t come from just knowing your instruments and how to make them work for you. That comes from when you make music from your heart. Which is exactly what this couple does for the entire album.

I could snatch any song out of the bunch and hark the herald on almost all of their work on this brilliant blend of songs. On “Ones And Zeroes,” the duo adds in some Lo-Fi electronic sounds to their recipe. It isn’t anything that distracts or takes away from what they do. Like the mastery use of any instrument, it builds more into their sound than it does take away. It’s such a subtle addition, like your mother adding just a pinch of spice to her neighborhood famous meatloaf. The addition, though, takes them from an Acoustic duo to a Dream Pop one. I’m not talking about your “riding down Sunset Blvd.” dream pop, here. No, I’m talking about running through the forest with the girl of your dreams to go swimming in the stream and make out on the bank type of dream pop. The kind of music that inspires good, innovative and loving Indy Flicks. The follow-up track “Catching Up To You” further dives into the new field that they’ve entered. Bringing with it a sense of that old school “Quiet Storm” mix to the whole picture(If you’re too young to even know what the term “Quiet Storm” means, then I can only hope that you have enough life experience to truly appreciate the amazing emotion of this album). It features no vocals. It’s just an instrumental track that showcases what this Husband & Wife team could do if they decided to switch up their style and go completely Lo-Fi electronic with their routine(or, hopefully as a side-project).

“Kandy” is a song that’s far too dreamy to be real. From the blissful echo of Joe’s whispery smooth vocals to the almost child-like playing of the keyboard riffs to the subtle and unabrasive drumming. The whole song just screams out quiet genius. It’s hard to deal with music that is so minimal yet light years ahead of what is normally [force] fed to the world. It’s even harder to believe that such captivating music could come from any other source but a loving & working relationship between two lovers. If there was ever a song of the year, this would seriously be one of the top contenders. Again, them not getting, in my view, sufficient attention is just so wrong in so many ways. But, I guess that makes them even more special and magical in their execution, delivery and honesty.

Being that I could go on for days about each and every track on this album(And there’s 16 of them, so that would take a while), I’ll just try to touch on a few more of the more soul changing/life altering tracks. “Lies” is great even in its annoying factor. The annoying factor is this static/distortion that runs through almost the entire song. But, for some reason, it adds to the whole sound of the song. Giving it more of a nostalgic feeling of a time long passed than a technical blip in their recording/mixing process. I’m not sure if this was intentional to be added in or if it was a mishap that seemed to work in their favor so they decided to keep it. But, either or, it does wonders with an already sweeping track. “Satellites (Venus To Mars)” is just nothing short of being as spectacular as riding a Unicorn in the Kentucky Derby for the win. I know, that sounds silly, but think about that for a second, will you? Go ahead. I’ll wait. […] Ok. Yeah, it was silly, but seemed cool at the same time. Well, this song is nothing close to silly. It’s just cool all the way through. The drum track keeps the cadence of the melody marching along boldly, yet not with intensity or aggressiveness. And, the lyrics and song concept are just wonderful. Venus to Mars = Women to Men, for those of you who aren’t in the know with astrology and Satellite figures. The fact that Joe’s vocals are doubled in a similar fashion to if he’s talking to Houston from space makes the whole thing that much more awe inspiring. You get the feeling that he’s drifting amongst the stars and finally found that one being that he’s searched his entire life for. The one that completely completes him. Granted, we all know that the one is April. Still, if there would be anyway to describe it, you could say that this is Joe’s mind before he married April. Lastly, I’d like to mention the track “Hold On.” It’s a combination of Dream Pop and Psychedelic music. It’s somewhere between getting high in a field of dandelions and riding in a car through the country roads with the top down in the middle of the night staring at the stars. Yeah, it was a run-on sentence, but I don’t care. The song deserves it(in a good way). Joe’s underwater-styled vocals just sends ripples through the listener while you’re treated to soft cat-in-heat moan-like sound throughout. With, again, the drums playing a critical part in the reception of the song. A slow and steady tempo that allows for any “Midnight Under the Stars” or “Under the Sea” prom event’s King & Queen dance to be a very good one. The guitar solo is short enough not to leave you lost, but performed properly enough to make that slow dance all the more romantic. When I wed, this will be the song that I’ll want to dance that first dance to.

To know that this Husband & Wife act are already in the process of creating their next soon-to-be masterpiece is a great thing to know. They are saying that they plan for it to be more “accessible.” I can understand them wanting to build their fan-base, and they promised to still be as dreamy for it. Still, I just feel that they shouldn’t have to dumb down even for a moment. I feel that the world needs to step up and understand what true musical art is all about. And their debut first album is as artisitic as taking a stroll through the Louvre in Paris. Along with being equally as impressive. I can only hope that they make a third, fourth, and fifth album after the second one. They’re needed in today’s monotomy. And, if I was to give star ratings out on this site, this couple would receive a solid 5 stars.



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Thrice’s 2nd Time Charm

Posted by C. Cue on April 10, 2008

Thrice has become well known as one of the most innovative bands in the Progressive Alternative genre. With their latest opus, The Alchemy Index, they’ve cemented their position in music. After releasing the first half (two of the four volumes) of the album almost a half a year prior, the band finally releases the second half to extremely eager fans both old and new. Opening up the Air volume is the mesmerizing song “Broken Lungs.” Starting off as a mellow track akin to those featured on their Water volume, it breaks off into power chords and lyric belting come the middle of the song. Fully emotive and spirit pulling, properly bringing to music the impression of your lungs direly desiring air. “The Sky Is Falling” marches its way into your ears with no regards to what you were doing before it even arrived; demanding to be heard and refusing to be ignored. If the sky was actually falling while this song was playing, no one would care. They’d be too busy pumping their fists and stomping their feet to the enchanting sounds dominating their ear canals. The band even manages to sneak in a little Nine Inch Nails hommage in the midst of the song with the line “My Fear Just Fills The Hate Machine.” Thrice even manages to pull out their inner Neo-Hippy with “A Song For Milly Michaelson.” Sounding like a protest song from the 60’s revamped for modern times only slightly more than one of longing, you’re compelled to start a bonfire and wait for the National Guards/Right Police to come storming in. With such a stripped down orchestration for 4/5s of the song, it’s mind-boggling how they manage to stir you up so easily. The lullaby sounds of “As The Crow Flies” sweeps you up, and gives you back the memories of a care/worry-free childhood. Harking you back to moments of laying idly in the spring regrown grass watching the clouds and birds fly past above you. “Silver Wings” brings out the chance of being the most memorable moment of the Air volume. Almost as alluring as the “Digital Sea” was for the Water volume, but just a tad more breezy. The Earth Volume follows in with “Moving Mountains,” sounding like some hidden song featured on O’ Brother Where Art Thou? The sound is too stripped down to be Country, but too country to be called Blues. But, this Ol’ Timey song speaks out on something that we all feel, no matter how much we go through it: “I don’t know the first thing about love.” “Digging My Own Grave” sounds like it would fit perfectly at some smokey nightclub in the 1940’s. Dustin gives Michael BublĂ© a run for his money in the crooning department. Having the distinct honor of being the only song on the Earth volume with full uptempo rhythm and a snazzy melody, “The Earth Isn’t Humming” doesn’t disappoint at all. It definitely calls out to the early period of experimental rock when The Doors were setting stages ablaze. Kensrue doesn’t pull out his inner Morrison, but he doesn’t have to. He has his own style of getting the message across, and he does that with total ease. All while the rest of the band proceeds to being the right measure of sonic ingredients to induce swaying. “The Lion And The Wolf” fully compliments Air’s “As The Crow Flies.” The possibility of them being companion tracks wouldn’t be something that would be far fetched in the minds of many. “Come All You Weary” is the first single of this second set of volumes. It’s the perfect song for anyone who’ve had a long journey just to find a place to call home. This time, though, Kensrue finds his inner Dylan, and pours his whole soul out into singing this powerful song. All in all, the entire series was one of sheer brilliance and innovative excellence. Truly showcasing and letting the world know the imaginative mastery that Thrice was only casually considered for. Though the band wanted all four to be released at once, it has a much stronger impact being released as it was. With each of the two volumes in each sets perfectly reflecting the other. A must have for anyone and everyone, especially those who understands the importance of a shooting star, and it’s marvelous image as it passes by in the deep dark blue sky.

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