Tag Archives: Music

No end in sight

Past few months have been dreadful. I have lost motivation to write anything. I used to be so good. I made a reference in my last post few months back that I will be writing a lot. But that hasn’t been the case. Reviewing music albums had me motivated but I fell off the wagon from that too (no longer temporarily as it seems) – Though, I did enjoy few photoshoot sessions but I ran out of the ideas there as well. At this point, I do feel like I’ve hit a major roadblock in life.

Not sure how this is going to end. No end in sight as it maybe. Next few weeks, I need to find and lock down a new apartment place for another year. As much as I have loved Phoenix, I have played around the idea of moving away. Even though, I do love the short weekend drive up to Vegas and L.A. from time to time.

Few more things to clear out: I won’t be attending Grand Chapter Congress. It kinda sucks as I really wanted to explore Seattle but I just can’t dip into my savings at this moment. Best part? I will be going to Austin in October. Definitely want to explore that city as I’ve heard so much growth in the economy there, and what city offers in terms of culture and music. Phoenix definitely lacks multi-cultural interaction. My ideal place would be San Francisco but Austin isn’t too shabby either.

Life awaits..


Slacking off…on my terms

For past few months, my activity on the blog has declined. I literally have made like 10 posts in over 6 months. A lot of fact is due to work and I’ve become obsessed with Netflix lately. I have to say I have caught up a lot with TV dramas that I missed out on during my college years.

I’ve joined meetup groups to meet professional individual like myself. Been to few meetup events that has been quite fascinating. One thing that hasn’t changed a bit is my love for attending live concerts. I’m due to attend another 6 shows till the end of the year. The biggest regret I have had is that I never kept myself up for reviewing shows that I’ve been to recently.

If you follow up my blog, you’d know that I’ve a YouTube channel dedicated to capturing live videos from the concerts I’ve been to. It’s my open library for everyone to approach me. My hope is to get invited on tour with bands to follow them around, and create a documentary on their tour.

I’m slightly off the topic here but I assure you I’ll be writing album reviews soon, and won’t have sporadic postings.

Till then, Ciao!


Zero

This response is to my previous journal entry. I have zero social skills…ZERO! Back in college days, things were a bit easy. But now, it feels like time has surpassed me. I do like going out and given my two recent meetup get together, I realize it’s hard to communicate at times.

I’ve been known for being reserved, not shy…just reserved. I guess you can say I don’t like taking chances. I maybe ok jumping off the plane without a parachute, but having a conversation with large group of people in a social gathering is never ideal.

I did however, enjoyed baseball game this afternoon, and I really hit it off with few new faces. I sure hope that I get to hang with Patty and her hubby Ian, whom I met on Saturday night. Patty is into live music, and her fav. band is Modest Mouse. Her music style in more so towards dance/electro but loves indie/alternative rock music as well. I hope to hang with her and her for live music scenes.

While on my way back to home this afternoon, Alison hopped into rail light as soon it was about to leave. We chatted about 15 mins, and she seems to dig that I’m into going concerts a lot. When I mentioned, I’ll be going to see 10 concerts starting from Sep, her reaction was priceless. I felt we got off the right spot as buds. She was even amazed that I love The Dandy Warhols, who are based from her hometown. I hope that I get to hang with her in future events, possibly going to music concerts!

Small step in places, if I can I have few more friends that I hang with besides that I already do, I’d be in good shape.


INXS

I like the very concept of INXS the way they began. Just a bunch of normal, music-loving dudes wanting to write and play songs of their own. Young, strong, intelligent, not afraid of grizzling tons of hard work in seedy Australian bars. Not caring much for experimentation of any sorts, although keeping their eyes open to new influences so as not to sound like yer average mid-Seventies barrom rockers, or, God forbid, Foreigner. It’s a nice, clean, healthy, and even potentially fun concept.

And to be fair, on their debut album they manage to nearly pull it off, no doubt due to having most of the songs polished and rehearsed before they ever had a chance to arrive at a recording studio. Besides, this isn’t just some new starry-eyed (or drunken-eyed, whichever you prefer) ragamuffian outfit blindly copying New Wave stereotypes and glossing them with radio-friendly varnish. From the very beginning, there is a purpose and a conviction to Michael Hutchence’s voice that makes you want to pay attention – even if those purposes and convictions might either dwindle or get modified with time. He’s got a pretty unique voice for his time… meaning there’s absolutely nothing about it that would make it special, and that’s exactly what makes it special. In an age populated by brawny scruffy Joe Strummers, effeminate whiny Stings, hiccupy paranoid David Byrnes, and jerky eccentric Andy Partridges, Hutchence certainly stands apart from the crowd.

As for the music, it’s yer basic pop-rock, just with an exaggerated ska influence. Ska, not reggae, meaning there’s very little ground for improvisation or “stretching out” of any sort – no, these boys are working fulltime in the three-minute pop song department. Don’t think I’m complaining about the musicianship, though. The band rolls along as tightly jelled as possible (well, after all, there’s, like, three brothers in it, so what else could you expect?). Guitars and keyboards do sound occasionally dated – particularly keyboards, with the thin wimpy Farfisa tones immediately giving away the Cars’ influence – but that’s “dated” in a decent way of speaking.

Lyrically, Hutchence and the boys are usually vague and ambivalent, occasionally embracing the most basic boy meets girl themes, but more often going off on various social-related tangents, none of which really make me jump up and shout “there goes a new branch of popular philosophy!”. In fact, on some of the songs they almost seem to be catering to the Midnight Oil crowds, except they could never even try to reach the heights of “politicalisation” achieved by the former. But then again, who needs two socially conscious human-rights promoting bands on Australian territory? So Hutchence is playing a much more individualistic emploi than Peter Garrett; certainly there’s a lot more “I” in his lyrics than “we“. Of course, Peter Garrett never committed suicide either, so remember that too much “I” in your lyrics can be dangerous, little boys and girls.

The exact same approach applies to my favourite song on here. Maybe you could measure these guys’ songwriting talents with a table spoon, but not based on the evidence of this song. The introductory sax riff (just as minimalistic as the guitar riff in ‘On A Bus’) is unforgettable, the main melody is menacing hard rock, and thenthe chorus goes ska, and it’s all over in a two-and-a-half-minute flash and the lyrics are again confused and ambiguous and you’re sort of “eh? what was that all about?” but the sax riff, man, I wish I could have written that one. Sometimes I quietly dream the very instrument must have been invited for that sort of things, except every time I do that, Miles Davis comes up and whops me on the head with the thing.

People who claim to be in love with INXS because of the deepest depths of the soul of Michael Hutchence usually like to single out ‘Learn To Smile’ as a major highlight. My guess is it’s because it’s the closest thing to a ballad on an album which otherwise lacks the tender balladry aspect altogether – in true New Wave fashion, of course. Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to red-circle it, but it is quite assuredly a notable song as well. But they have extended it by means of a generic keyboard solo and… well, formally speaking, five minutes is too long, especially on an album whose best stretches are generally short, compact and straight up to the point.

If anything, sometimes they’re too straight up to the point. If you thought ‘Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da’ was the weak link on the White Album, you’ll probably be annoyed a-plenty with all the ska choruses. Especially those that act like they do not belong in the song at all but want to steal the spotlight anyway. ‘Jumping’, for instance, begins like this stealthily creeping jungle predator, with ominous sax growls and threatening distorted guitar rhythms and brawny, intimidating vocals, and then all of a sudden you get the same kind of chucka-chucka-chucka-chucka and a ‘jumping jumping all night long jumping jumping it’s up to you’ chorus which might be useful if you’re playing hide-and-seek but otherwise might feel totally out of place. ‘Roller Skating’ begins all hot and funky (yes, this is the song featuring immortal lines like ‘I see a girl/She’s roller skating/I don’t know her/But she makes me feel like roller skating’ – for a long long time, the only thing I remembered about this band), but then it’s ska time all over again.

On the other hand, if you thought ‘Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da’ was the White Album‘s high point, all these ska choruses will be perfectly nice and catchy. The only really really stupid ska ditty on here, I think, is the aptly titled ‘Body Language’, a song released two years before the Queen composition but every bit as obnoxious in a class of its own. Fortunately, it’s only two minutes. And it’s still catchy in a way, just sort of dumb, even by this record’s standards.

Not that this record’s standards are that low. Nobody knows it exists because who the heck cares about non-hit Australian-only albums when you can restrict yourself to caring about commercially successful worldwide smashes. The boundless wisdom of the All-Music Guide only awarded it two stars out of five, and that’s a pretty unencouraging incentive to let it go back into print. But I gotsta tell you, my limited experience says it’s one of this band’s best releases, and a fine 1980 pop album in its own rights.


30s Bucket List

I always like to challenge myself. This bucket list deal started out as an innocent act when I turned 20. While, I wasn’t able to achieve all what I had put down, I was proud to be able to put my foot down, and got 6.5 out 10 on the list done.

Here’s what I like to do in my 30s.

1. Being financially stable, have a career that I love and prosper my life into.
2. Start a side gig as a Professional Photographer. Keep touch bases with friends who offered to help for photoshoot.
3. Attend Grand Chapter Congress Seattle 2013
4. Roadtrip on Route US 50
5. Payoff DEBT!
6. Become a Board member for a non-profit organization.
7. Become a U.S. citizen
8. Own a home
9. Attend overseas music festivals: Reading, Rock in Rio, Rock Am Ring
10. Visit Dubai, Venice, Shanghai, Tokyo, Cabo, Cancun, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Turkey, Jerusalem, Mecca, Medina, Najaf & Karbala


Murmur

R.E.M.’s first album is one that’s very good, very consistent and nearly impossible to tell the songs apart the first few listens. But that’s not a problem. This is the sort of album that you’ll like immersing yourself because the melodies are catchy and the atmosphere is engaging. The more you play it, the more closely you’ll want to listen to it. It won’t be long before you’ll be able to tell the songs apart. This is a very gorgeous album! These guys seem like they were supposed to be categorized as post-punk, but their jangly guitar style borrows more closely from The Byrds. The mood is very reserved and introverted, which was also a new thing back in 1983. The band’s characteristic sound is undoubtedly Michael Stipe’s sleepy, sandy voice, which somehow sounds rough and refined at the same time. I know that doesn’t makes sense, but that’s the best I can do to describe it. That voice is one of the great mysteries. If you don’t want to analyze it, you can bask in its pure pleasantness and hear it blend perfectly with the jangly instrumentation. Though he’s usually mumbling, so you’ll probably need a lyrics sheet if you even care about lyrics that much.

“Radio Free Europe” is a great introduction. Immediately, it immerses you into the thick atmosphere, jangly guitars and ultra-clean drum thwacks. Occasionally, we’ll hear a very plain piano pounding, and even more occasionally, there’s a glockenspiel sound. It creates an incredibly delicate atmosphere! Listening to the riff and that rumbling bass-line, it vaguely recalls punk music, but the intricate textures are so different and delicate that the comparisons end there. Moreover, you listen to it and you will probably find it immediately lovable. The melody isn’t that complicated, but it’s has catchy verses and an even catchier chorus. As soon as it’s done playing, you’ll exclaim to the stars that you just listened to a wholesome song, and you LOVE IT! The follow-up song is “Pilgrimage” and, amazingly so, it’s almost equally as good. You could say that about all the songs in Murmur. Amazingly consistent. (……Alright, I was taking some liberties about your taste in music, but what I described will probably happen. I haven’t yet met a sane or insane person who didn’t like Murmur. People who hate society love Murmur, people who love society love Murmur….. I think even space aliens love Murmur. It’s magic!)

The craziest thing about this album is that every single listener will have a different idea about what their favorite song is. (And most listeners seem to care enough about it to try to single one out.) The only way two people are going to have the exact same opinion for the exact same reason is if they’re in some sort of brainwashing cult! I have a very absolute opinion that my favorite track is “Shaking Through,” but there’s a very good chance that the person sitting next to me would want to slap me on the back of the head for thinking that. But I like the song anyway! It’s upbeat with incredibly catchy melody. Stipes’ gravelly mumble seems like it’s at its heights though a little uglier than usual. I have no idea what he’s saying, but I don’t care! His voice is a cool instrument! The guitars and pianos and drums are a perfect, earthly backdrop to it. They don’t try to show off, and that really helps the texture come alive.

I will say that “Talk About the Passion” is almost my favorite song. It was a photo finish. It’s not quite as upbeat, but the melody is great and just as endearing … it even has a more distinct chorus, and the guitar riff is quite a bit cooler. They even bring in a cello. It reeks of complete coolness. The last track of the album “West of Fields” is another massive favorite of mine. It’s even more upbeat than “Shaking Through” and just about as furious as they were willing to get. But they come up with a few really cool textures in there. The one-phrase chorus is really catchy, and they even manage to work in a gorgeous middle-eight section. “Moral Kiosk” is notable for the more-distinctive-than-usual guitar riffs, and the double drum rasps that pop up. And that makes it especially cool. “Catapult” is notable for its one-word chorus that has the charming tendency to stick around in my mind looooooooooong after it’s through playing. “Sitting Still” features a more-passionate-than-usual vocal performance from Stipe. “9-9” loses some points for its somewhat cluttered instrumentation, but gains it right back for sounding pretty mean at times without sacrificing the album’s overall vibe.

To further illustrate my theory about no two people being able to choose the same favorite songs, there are two songs in particular that I don’t care a whole lot for, but other record reviewers have singled out as highlights. “Walk” is a good song, but it seems a little too fruity for me.  I’m also not a massive fan of the atmospheric piano ballad “Perfect Circle” because it seems a little dull to me. But it really doesn’t matter, because all these songs are great. If you haven’t heard this album yet, I urge you to get it. You’ll listen to it, and I’m positive you’ll like it. And then you can play it to some of your friends, because they’ll like it, and then they’ll like you. This is a scientific fact.


Album Of The Year

Though more straightforward than past efforts, Album Of The Year still manages to remain the strange hybrid that could only be Faith No More. Actually, there’s a vast, echoed sound that’s unique to this album, which finds them playing to their strengths. By this I mean that keyboardist Roddy Bottum again occupies a position of prominence, and though his modernized synth sounds seem somewhat more gimmicky than in the past, Bottum still gives an impressive performance. Also, singer Mike Patton tones down the inane growling and shrieking that occasionally made listening to King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime a chore; here he shows off his many styles with aplomb, becoming the band’s biggest asset.

From the grinding guitars (courtesy of new guitarist Jon Hudson) of “Collision” to the celestial beauty of “Stripsearch,” the big riffs, futuristic keyboard flourishes, and anthemic chorus of “Last Cup Of Sorrow,” and onto the staccato riffing and rapid fire vocals of “Naked In Front Of The Computer,” Faith No More delivers a more consistent set than on the last album, whose peaks rose higher and which was winningly weirder. Acoustic guitars come to the fore on the soulful beginning to “Helpless,” but eventually the electric guitars turn up for a soaring chorus, only to be replaced again by a serene tunefulness before building to an exciting and desperate finale, concluding with Patton’s anguished cries of “help.” Bottum’s carnival-esque keyboards are interspersed with a thrash punk attack on “Mouth To Mouth,” while “Ashes To Ashes” is another effective track showcasing their idiosyncratic melding of coiled guitar frenzy, keyboard-led atmospherics, and Patton’s alternately beautiful and bellowed vocals.

Alas, there are times when the band tries to do too much at once, but jumping in and out of so many musical styles keeps things sounding fresh, and when Patton breaks out his falsetto croon on the r&b flavored pop of “She Loves Me Not,” it’s clear that there’s little that this band can’t do. Perhaps a few of the shorter songs (such as “Home Sick Home”) aren’t completely fulfilling and a case could be made that certain songs (such as “Pristina”) coast on atmosphere alone, but this turned out to be a fine finale for Faith No More, who broke up soon after this album’s completion. Perhaps it was because the album flopped, or perhaps it was simply a case of the band doing things their way to the very end, saying what they had to say (strong though it is, Album Of The Year shows few moves that they hadn’t already shown) and then disappearing.  However, there’s no denying that Faith No More’s  influence would live on forever.