RSS

Monthly Archives: April 2013

Defending The Faith: A Look at Fall Out Boy’s Save Rock and Roll

falloutboyWhile Fall Out Boy was on the dreaded hiatus and working on their own projects, I constantly swore up and down that the hiatus was going to be the best thing that ever happened to the band. I mean, it wasn’t like Blink-182. No one in the band was outright detesting the other and it wasn’t going to take a near death to get the band back on tour. It was just going to take time. Fall Out Boy just had to take some time off from Fall Out Boy, and they were going to come back stronger than ever.

I don’t think I anticipated how much they were going to knock the world off its feet when they returned though.

Back in February, Fall Out Boy not only announced the end of the hiatus, but a new album that they had recorded in secret with producer (and my personal hero) Butch Walker, a set of tour dates (see you June 2 at The Tabernacle!), and the first single ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’.

Now, when the fandom realized that the band had done this all in secret, some puzzle pieces from the past year began to make sense. Like Patrick’s post about why he was stepping back from his solo stuff. Oh, you sneaky, sneaky boys. I even saw Butch live while they were working on the album and I was none the wiser!

But it’s okay, because the end result of them recording an album with no expectations on them is an album that far exceeds my own.

The image that let me know the rest of my year was going to be this band...

When the band announced Save Rock and Roll, they said the album was different from anything they had ever done, but encapsulated what Fall Out Boy was in 2013. I can honestly say that’s probably the most accurate description of Save Rock and Roll. There are signatures of older Fall Out Boy here, like Pete Wentz’s classic wordplay and the mix of pop-punk and metal influences that drive the rhythm section. But it’s also obvious that the boys have had a chance to play a little more during the hiatus. There’s a groove on songs like ‘Where Did The Party Go’ and ‘Miss Missing You’ that calls back to the Minneapolis Sound influences of Patrick Stump’s solo album Soul Punk. The bass wobble on ‘Death Valley’ and the general feel of ‘Just One Yesterday’ remind me of Black Cards. The thrashing guitars and drums on ‘The Mighty Fall’ and ‘Rat A Tat’ make me want to give another listen to The Damned Things and With Knives after hearing Joe and Andy get to flex their musical muscles a little more. The biggest surprise though was getting to hear all the boys provide background vocal harmonies, which I assume came along with the help of Walker.

Still, even with all these changes, it doesn’t feel like the band is trying to escape who they are. It might be jarring to casual fans or people who only know the songs they’ve heard on the radio, but those who have followed the band and their activities through the hiatus will see that this is a natural evolution. If anything, getting to explore new sounds and working with a producer that reminded them how to act like a band after three years off has strengthened their sound.

It also doesn’t hurt that the guest spots on this record are spot on.

Not seen: Patrick Stump's fanboy attackSince the days of Take This To Your Grave, Fall Out Boy has always managed to snag some great guests for their albums. From friends like William Beckett and Brendon Urie to major stars like Elvis Costello, Debbie Harry, and Jay-Z. They somehow managed to take the cake with Save Rock and Roll. There is the relative unknown of British singer Foxes, who offers beautiful ethereal vocals on ‘Just One Yesterday’. Rapper Big Sean drops a line on ‘The Mighty Fall’ that mixes extremely well with Wentz’s lyrics and keeps the flow of the song perfectly.

But really, it’s about those last two tracks.

‘Rat A Tat’ is a driving track that has grown on me the more I’ve heard it and makes me extremely excited to open my windows and drive as soon as the pollen stops blowing its load. It features Courtney Love doing a speak-sing on the track that’s manic, beautiful, and fits the track perfectly. When the album was leaked by the band the week before the album, I seriously thought that her parts were parts Wentz had written for himself initially before they decided to include Love. So imagine my surprise when I learned that every part that Love sings was written by Love herself. Her style meshes with Wentz’s like peanut butter and chocolate, and it’s a shame that people are going to write off this track just because of a continuing hate on for Love.

I will defend faith/Going down swinging‘Save Rock and Roll,’ the emotional title track, closes off the album in an epic way that only Fall Out Boy could do. It perfectly bookends the bombastic opener ‘The Phoenix’ and feels like the perfect in-house response to ‘What A Catch, Donnie’ from Folie a Deux. With gorgeous strings, the loop of ‘Chicago Is So Two Years Ago’ from Take This To Your Grave and the band singing “Oh no, we won’t go/Cause we don’t know how to quit,” the track assures the listener that Fall Out Boy isn’t going away again anytime soon. If ‘What A Catch, Donnie’ was about uncertainty, ‘Save Rock and Roll’ is about facing the future head on without forgetting what brought you here.

It doesn’t hurt that the track features an amazing vocal part from living legend and Fall Out Boy fan (I will never be over that) Sir Elton John. Hearing him sing alongside Patrick Stump while singing words written by Pete Wentz is so surreal, but amazing and just makes me cry even more. It feels like a decree from on high that Fall Out Boy is a part of an every evolving history of rock and roll. Genres change and it evolves with people who are willing to push the boundaries of the genre. Fall Out Boy wanted us to question what we consider ‘rock and roll’ with this album. Will they actually save rock and roll with their unique twists on the genre? It’s hard to say.

As many other reviewers have noticed before me though, I think this album certainly saved them.

Like young volcanoes...

Advertisements
 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Music

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chins Up, Smiles On! The Catching Fire teaser trailer is here!

Before I gush about The Hunger Games yet again, I want to start off with a hope that everyone is safe. I’m writing this blog in the middle of incoming news about the explosions at the Boston Marathon. If you’re in Boston or just have a lot of connections to the city, I hope you and your loved ones are safe today. Google has put up a person finder for those looking for loved ones, and the Red Cross is looking for blood donors in the area. And if the events in today’s news are too much for you, I hope that this blog can provide you with some distraction.

Last night during the MTV Movie Awards, the first teaser trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire premiered. If you’re like me and just could not put yourself through another MTV awards ceremony for a few glimpses of fandom joy, the trailer went online immediately after. I’m embedding it below and the link is here. There is some violent imagery and implications in the trailer, but nothing graphic.

So, what’s noticeable about the sequel to one of last year’s biggest films right off the bat? Besides the chills down my spine and the tears running down my face?

Well, first off, the editors of this trailer definitely remember what the word ‘teaser’ means. Fans of the books know that half of Catching Fire takes place on the Victory Tour and in District 12 while the other half is in the Capitol and in the arena for the Quarter Quell. Besides the scene with President Snow and Plutarch Heavensbee and the District 12 victors entering the gala, we see nothing of The Capitol or the Quarter Quell in this trailer. This has lead to some fan speculation that the Quell won’t be seen in this film and might be delayed till Mockingjay – Part 1. Which I’m 1,010 percent sure will not happen because:

  1. What’s the point of a teaser trailer if you’re alluding to everything that happens in the film? It’s likely we won’t see a full trailer with scenes from the Quell until the end of the Summer Blockbuster season. Plus, it’s a good idea marketing wise to focus on the uprising initially to get people who aren’t as familiar with the books hooked onto the story line of the film. Hence the use of the hashtag “#TheSpark”
  2. It’s April. The film comes out in November. If anything, they’re probably still working on editing the scenes in the arena.

529391_579645698720267_341809516_n

The other obvious things in this trailer are the director and location changes.

Okay, maybe the location changes aren’t as obvious to others as they are to me. I spend a lot of time in Atlanta and in Georgia. The aesthetics of the state are supremely obvious to me, especially after seeing the state in so many movies and tv shows in the past few years.

But the director change…

I loved the angle Gary Ross took in The Hunger Games. The documentary angle that allowed us to be in Katniss’ head and share her experiences without hearing her thoughts on a voiceover while seamlessly stepping outside of the arena to see the outside influences that were shaping the events inside the arena. In the trailer, we see that there is still some of that, with the discussion between Snow and Heavensbee and the uprising that recalls images of the violent protests that have proliferated the news in the past few years. But everything seems a bit… glossier. And not as rough and tumble as the first film. Maybe that’s director Francis Lawrence’s music video experience shining through. Maybe it seems that way just from the limited scope of the first trailer. I mean, we won’t really be able to see the real difference in directing until we get into the arena again.

I'M NOT CRYING. IT'S JUST RAINING ON MY FACE.But maybe this kind of directional change will work out for the movie’s favor.

Starting in Catching Fire, the Hunger Games Trilogy becomes a different sort of animal. The first book was about a girl trying to survive a fight to the death that’s entertainment for the people of the Capitol. Catching Fire and Mockingjay are about the same girl dealing with the consequences of what she experienced. Becoming an inadvertent icon of the revolution while having to battle the demons that planted themselves after she left the arena. The Katniss of those books are miles away from the Katniss we meet in Chapter 1 of The Hunger Games. Maybe it makes sense that our view of the events happening around her changes in the next three films.

I just hope that Francis Lawrence has some sort of understanding of this.

No matter how this film turns out though, I think some of the images we see in the trailer are going to stick with me for quite some time. Especially the one of the graffiti that says “The odds are NEVER in our favor.” Because if you ever wanted to sum up District life in one sentence, there it is.

Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence in Making Me Cry A Million Tears: The Franchise

That’s it for today’s blog. Come back on Wednesday for a little less Hunger Games and a little more “Save Rock and Roll.”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Books, Film

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Famous Last Words: Reflecting on the life of My Chemical Romance

Two weeks in and I’m already messing up my own schedule. I’m going forward with the MCR post though. Which begins now:

Much to the embarrassment to some of my friends in this dimension, I’m still a fan of many pop punk bands that initially came to popularity in the mid-2000s. Not all, but bands like Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Cobra Starship, and The Hush Sound are among my favorite bands in the world. And it makes me happy that two of those bands have gotten back together and are making music again.

However, that’s not the case for one of the bigger bands from that era.

On March 22, My Chemical Romance announced that they had officially called it quits after 12 years of being a band.

MCR-internet-pics-my-chemical-romance-24748831-900-600My initially reaction was very chill. With some of the drama the band had right at the very end, it wasn’t that surprising that they called it quits (even though it was all unrelated to the band breaking up). But as it really sunk in that the band was done, I got surprisingly emotional. I had become less connected with the band over the years (I still haven’t heard Conventional Weapons), but it doesn’t mean that they stopped meaning anything to me. My second ever rock concert was them. I still have and occasionally wear the gorgeous shirt designed by Heather Gabel from that tour. One of my few attempts at visual art was trying to draw up a t-shirt design for a contest they had with Fuse way back in the day. I attempted to write a very terrible stage version of The Black Parade many, many years ago. One of my earliest memories of Hellblinki was seeing them back up Voltaire on a cover of ‘Blood’. I spent countless hours working on a Killjoy costume and forming Zone 42 at Dragon*Con. Hell, one of my greatest regrets involves not saying hello to Gerard Way at Dragon*Con even though he was 10 feet in front of me because I didn’t think it was him!

This band drove so much love and creativity in me, and now they’re gone and I never really got to say goodbye.

Except as Gerard said in a very, very long tweet two days after the announcement, they’re never really gone. Because you can’t kill an idea.

MyChemicalRomance2010DC081110

This really sunk in when I had listen thrus of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, The Black Parade, and Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. The band was often labeled as emo because of the way their lyrics focused on death, but I don’t think people realized that Gerard came from a comic book artist background. (If you don’t believe me, just listen to him scream a quote by Death herself from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman at the beginning of ‘It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Deathwish.’) A lot of My Chemical Romance’s songs told stories about lives that existed outside of this plane. They were about a man with cancer being lead through a journey of his life and the afterlife. They were about a man trying to reunite with his lover by killing 1,000 evil men. They were about rebels in the desert trying to survive the apocalypse. They weren’t just about death and wanting to be dead.

And because these songs about death were told in a story, there were songs about being alive and living without someone you lost. Songs like ‘Cemetery Drive’ and ‘Famous Last Words’ are big examples, but they’re all over Danger Days. ‘Sing’ is about not being silenced by fear. ‘Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back’ is about being ready to fight on without someone. And ‘The Kids From Yesterday’… well, I’ll let that one speak for itself.

I have seen so many fans of musicians claim that the musician and their work saved their lives, but not as many as with My Chemical Romance. So many MCR fans were inspired to keep on living by the band and their work. Right now, it seems like hard times, but the band gave us all the tools we needed to survive and live on without them. And as long as fans keep living on and creating in their name, My Chemical Romance can never really die. As Frank Iero said when Danger Days came out:

Fear is the eternal enemy. If they can keep you scared, they can keep you controlled. We too came face to face with this saboteur, and found the strength to break through and carry on. We are here as a reminder that the world is not better off without you…these are dangerous days we live in and you, the artists, are our last defense.

Art is the Weapon.

Your Imagination is the Ammunition.
Stay Dirty, and Stay Dangerous.
Create and Destroy as you see fit.
Embrace your Originality.
The Aftermath is Secondary.
You can and should do Anything.

In conclusion friends, if you take anything away from this record, please let it be the strength to be passionate.

Love what you do and who you truly are. Be willing to die for it. If you are true to yourself, you can never go wrong. And remember when life gives you lemons, MCR says start a fucking band.

You’re never truly alone, Killjoys. Don’t be afraid to keep on living.

Plus, the Killjoys comic is FINALLY coming out this summer. Talk about never being able to kill an idea. I guess it’s true what Dr. Death Defying says. “Even if you’re dusted, you may be gone. But out here in the desert, your shadow lives on without you.”

tumblr_mk4q1wYCdx1r6liawo1_500

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Music

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Fooling: The Diary returns!

After many adventures across the aether that include getting involved with fire spinners, taking up the media editor reins at Steampunk Chronicle, zipping all over the east coast with The Extraordinary Contraptions, and the general tiredness that comes from that, I’m happy to announce that starting today, The Diary of a Dimension Hopper is back in business!

Did you miss me, friends? Because I missed you. And with all the fun that’s coming out this year in movies and music, I’d be remiss to stop writing the Diary. Plus, you might be hearing me on a podcast or two soon, but more on that when it happens.

I’m hoping to be on a MWF schedule, but I’ll be at least posting once a week on one of those designated days.

We’ll truly resume on Wednesday where I’ll reflect on the life of the recently broken up My Chemical Romance, but for now, let me give you the six songs I’m currently listening to over and over again.

1.) ‘The Phoenix’ by Fall Out Boy – The second single/opening song from their upcoming album Save Rock and Roll, Fall Out Boy is proving that they’re back with a vengeance. With intense instrumentation, Patrick Stump dialing it up on the vocals, and production from Butch Walker that brings out the best of it all, ‘The Phoenix’ is a driving track that has me foaming at the mouth to hear it live (which I will on June 2nd). Plus, the video for it brings back the weirdness I didn’t realize I missed during their four year hiatus mixed in with a fandom kink meme for good measure.

2.) ‘My Simple Pop Song’ by Professor Shyguy – I’ve known Professor Shyguy for almost two years through his band The Aeronauts, but I hadn’t had a chance to see his chiptune solo project live until this past weekend. Now my brain is filled with 8-bit music and his extremely clever and catchy lyrics. ‘My Simple Pop Song’ has been the main offender, with a precise breakdown of how a simple pop song that burrows its way into your head is composed. Kind of ironic, but I don’t mind. Mixed with some excellent dance moves, I can see why he calls himself “The poor nerd’s Justin Timberlake.”

3.) ‘Mirrors’ by Justin Timberlake – Speaking of Justin Timberlake! Now, I’ve been very bad in the fact I haven’t actually gotten a chance to listen to The 20/20 Experience yet. Sorry Justin! But the second single ‘Mirrors’ definitely surpassed ‘Suit and Tie’. ‘Suit and Tie’ is a little bit catchier, but ‘Mirrors’ just pulls at the heartstrings and shows why Justin Timberlake is one of the best voices in pop music right now. Plus, the video Target released of him performing the song with fans is really adorable.

4.) ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ by Against Me! – Back on Election Day, I made a trip down to Athens with my friends BFT and Little Spoon to see Against Me! perform at the 40 Watt. It was an amazing show that opened with this song and just unleashed fury in the pit that I had to spend a few days recovering from. It’s been consistently stuck in my head since then, but there is sadly no recorded version out yet. I await patiently, opening guitar loop stuck in my head, and a review will happen when it does.

5.) ‘Slut Like You’ by Pink – A month ago, I had the chance to see Pink perform at Philips Arena with The Truth About Love tour. And to quote Rona Thorne, it was AMAZIIIIIING. The Truth About Love is already an amazing album, but getting to hear many of the songs live mixed with her theatrics was certainly a treat. While I may not have tickets yet, I know I’m going to see her again in December. There were plenty of catchy songs during that show that have been in rotation on my iPod, but the dirty  feminist power anthem ‘Slut Like You’ has been up there the most. Especially after the weekend I just had.

6.) ‘Bone China Cup’ by The Extraordinary Contraptions – Okay, I had to slip ONE April Fool in here. This was all Teodore’s idea! See what kind of Steampunk silliness you can spot here!

Until Wednesday, my friends…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 1, 2013 in General, Internet, Music, Steampunk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: