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Ashley’s Favorite Music of 2013

Well, here it is. The grand finale of my favorites of 2013. It took me two weeks to compose my thoughts on this topic… Or rather, I’ve been stupidly busy with work that I haven’t had a chance to write it. I like the first excuse better though.

Last year was a pretty damn good year. Favorites returned, new people surprised me, and there were some great indie stuff that popped up in my personal circle. I talked about some of it in the middle of last year, but what made it to the end? Well, let’s start with

Favorite Singles

Honorable Mention: ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry

I hate that I like this song. I hate that Katy Perry songs keep getting in my head and every time I say I don’t like it, it beats me into submission until I do. It happened again with ‘Roar’ to the point I would turn it up and belt Katy’s turn at an empowerment anthem after her divorce from Russell Brand. Though, due to Katy’s writing style, I still think she’s writing about Travis McCoy.

6.) TIE: ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk and ‘Holy Grail’ by Jay-Z feat. Justin Timberlake

Lots of people got sick of these songs rather quickly, but strangely, I never did. Even though I couldn’t get into Magna Carta Holy Grail the way I did Watch The Throne, there were several tracks on the album that completely stood out to me like ‘BBC,’ ‘Picasso Baby,’ and ‘Jay Z Blue.’ The lead single of ‘Holy Grail’ was completely entrancing. I think I might have ended up liking Justin on this track more than on most of his singles from The 20/20 Experience. Well… most…

As for ‘Get Lucky,’ it really was everyone’s song of the year. It was a fun disco track that felt more genuine than any other track on the radio this summer. It also probably sealed the deal for the awesome year Pharrell had. Well, maybe it was that OTHER song, but I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Canadian Creep.

5.) ‘This Is Gospel’ by Panic! at the Disco

I really only liked about half of Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die. The half I really liked was sexy, catchy and weirdly emotional. The half I didn’t was boring to the point it began to run together. Thankfully, the second single ‘This Is Gospel’ was on the half I liked. It’s a stand out song on the record even without single status due to the sung in a church like feeling of the song and the pure brutal emotion. I’ve cried to this song, and I’m not afraid to admit that. Even if the rest of the album is dull, I’m glad that this is the song that shines.

4.) ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’ by Fall Out Boy

It’s been a year and a day since this song roared into my life and it hasn’t gotten old yet in the million times I’ve listened, screamed, drove and rocked out to this song. The band came back with a vengeance and this song did a great job of staking their claim in the year of music. Not to mention the Butch Walker handclaps certainly help.

3.) ‘Problem’ by Natalia Kills

This was the year I discovered Natalia Kills and I feel like it improved my life in so many ways. The album Trouble is full of gems, but the lead single ‘Problem’ was blowing cigarette smoke in my face with a smile and I was loving it. ‘Problem’ is an anthem for bad girls everywhere who love their vices and don’t give two fucks about who judges them. As I slipped into that side of me throughout the year, that song played in my head and guided my steps.

2.) ‘Closer’ by Tegan and Sara

I feel like a bad queer girl when I admit that I haven’t really listened to Tegan and Sara seriously. I know I would like them and I love the song ‘Hell,’ I just keep forgetting to listen to them. Still, even with my constant forgetfulness to listen to Tegan and Sara, I fell in love with the song ‘Closer.’ Never has a song so accurately reflected what it’s like to be so completely smitten with someone that all you want to do with them is get them to sit a bit closer to you. You bet I turned this up when I finally heard it on the radio.

1.) ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ by Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu

In an alternate universe, this song became a massive hit, Janelle Monae gets the fame she so rightly deserves, and everyone recognized ‘Blurred Lines’ for the date rape song it is and lets Robin Thicke wallow in obscurity forever. Unfortunately, my physical body does not reside in that universe. However, I still have ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ and I still have Monae rising, showing the world what she’s made of.

EPs

I should note that I usually never cover EPs, but this year had three that definitely stood out to me that are worth noting.

Who's gonna take you home tonight? [wikipedia.org]

Who’s gonna take you home tonight? [wikipedia.org]

3.) True Trans by Against Me!

This EP was more of a two-sided single to tide people over as they waited on Transgender Dysphoria Blues (that review is coming, by the way), but splitting hairs doesn’t take away from the fact that this EP is fantastic. It features acoustic versions of the song ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’ and ‘Fuckmylife666,’ which are probably two of my favorite songs on the record. On the record, the songs are plenty emotional, but there’s a personal vulnerability in the EP versions that pack more punch than their electric counterparts.

Must Hear Track: The entire thing. It’s two songs.

2.) Pax-AM Days by Fall Out Boy

This eight song EP that the band recorded over a drunken weekend in Ryan Adams’ studio only clocks in at 13 minutes. It’s the very definition of loud and fast with the band only taking one or two takes for each songs. It was an interesting experiment considering how perfectionist they can be. It was loud, fast, and rage filled like the early days, but with skills that don’t make the record too painful to listen to for long. I’m sad I didn’t get to run around a field blasting this album like I originally planned. THIS SPRING IN THE MOUNTAINS…

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Hot to the Touch, Cold on the Inside,’ ‘Caffeine Cold,’ ‘Love, Sex, Death’

1.) Peachtree Battle by Butch Walker

Wherever you are, that's my home. [butchwalker.com]

Wherever you are, that’s my home. [butchwalker.com]

I cried like a baby listening to this EP. I’ve cried even harder hearing these songs live. Butch has always been an emotional songwriter, but Peachtree Battle drives right to the heart. When Butch began writing the songs, his father had been on a slow decline in health and Butch began writing the five song EP to come to terms with his father’s mortality. Before the EP released, Big Butch Walker passed away, which ends up magnifying the emotional impact of the songs even more. It’s a personal reflection on the effect one person can have on our lives, especially one as big as a parent. Still, it’s not all about death. There are plenty of life lessons that Big Butch taught Butch in these songs too. Ones that we can all learn from.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘I’ve Been Waiting For This,’ ‘Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To,’ ‘Peachtree Battle’

Favorite Albums

Well, here they are. The cream of the crop. What albums prevailed to be my favorites in 2013?

I’m up all night to get lucky.

5.) Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

I think I ended up liking this album less as the year went on, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think it gets ragged on way too much. Daft Punk has always been about bringing art to electronic music and this album was very much about exploring their roots in several ways. Some of it was disco like ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ and ‘Get Lucky.’ Some of it was more experimental. A lot of it really, but it works because there really isn’t anyone out there that gets it like Daft Punk. Just because I can get down to ‘Get Lucky’ doesn’t mean I can’t chill to ‘Touch’ or appreciate/rock out to the reverse engineering of ‘Giorgio by Moroder.’ It isn’t Discovery, but we need to stop expecting Daft Punk to make that album again.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Touch,’ ‘Get Lucky,’ ‘Doin’ It Right’

4.) ARTPOP by Lady Gaga

I was worried about this album, but it ended up pleasantly surprising me in the end. It’s not flaw free, but ARTPOP is definitely one of the best albums Gaga has released. It was an honest and beautiful look at the life of an artist trying to balance her life and art. With some catchy dance numbers and lots of modern art, of course.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Sexxx Dreams,’ ‘Do What U Want,’ ‘Artpop’

3.) Rated Heart by Professor Shyguy

I'll attack you once, you attack me back!

I’ll attack you once, you attack me back!

Meanwhile, I ended up liking this album more. Maybe I’m a little biased towards my friends, but Professor Shyguy can write a damn good chiptune pop song. Even if I don’t always get what he’s singing about, I can get down without hesitation. I feel like I should have a deeper reason of liking this record so much, but I don’t. It’s geeky, catchy, and fun, which is all I need sometimes. As I said before, “the Poor Nerd’s Justin Timberlake” mixes geekdom and pop music with ease.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Keywords and Dubstep,’ ‘Weak,’ ‘Destroy Metroid’

2.) Trouble by Natalia Kills

I must confess, when one of my online friends asked me if I had heard the new Natalia Kills record, I had no earthly idea who the hell she was talking about. The album took forever to get on Spotify, but I ended up blasting ‘Problem’ for weeks until it did. Where I started to scream “I PUT MY HIGH HEELS ON SO I’M CLOSER TO GOD” at random points up until I finally bought the album and long since after. Much like ‘Problem,’ Trouble is an album about girls with their middle fingers in the air as they party, but it also shows the motivation and sadness that fuels it. Trouble isn’t just a party record, but a record about broken people putting on their best faces.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Problem,’ ‘Stop Me,’ ‘Devils Don’t Fly’

1.) TIE: Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy and The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae

I don't know where you're going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul?

I don’t know where you’re going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul?

I debated this for WEEKS. I’ve talked at length about these two albums online and in person to anyone who will listen. I’ve listened to them over and over again that I sing along with instrumentals. I’ve cried and rocked out to both of these artists live. And in the end, I could not decide which album I really wanted to put as my #1 of the year: Janelle Monae’s genre bending entry of love, heartache, and standing up for what you believe in her Metropolis epic or Fall Out Boy rediscovering themselves and setting out to make a record to inspire the next generation of garage bands. Both records meant a lot me last year while being simultaneously fantastic. What else can be said?

Must Hear Tracks:

Save Rock and Roll: ‘The Phoenix,’ ‘Rat a Tat,’ ‘Save Rock and Roll’

The Electric Lady: ‘Q.U.E.E.N,’ ‘Givin Em What They Love,’ ‘Victorious’

janelle-monae-album-cover-electric-lady-homepage

Well, that finishes up my favorites of last year. What were your favorites of last year? What did you disagree with me on? And don’t worry, we’ll stop dwelling on last year soon enough. My review of Transgender Dysphoria Blues is next.

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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Music

 

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The Top 6 Albums of 2013 (So Far…)

Hello readers! Sorry for such the long wait between posts. Life has been rather busy for me for the past couple of months. So much to the point I haven’t seen a summer movie since Iron Man 3! I plan on correcting that this week though with the release of Pacific Rim and you can expect my review of that come Friday.

Today though, I will be talking about my favorite albums of the year so far. Some I’ve already talked about in various places, but all have been enjoyed in some form or another. Plus, with some great albums I haven’t heard yet, need to listen to a few times more, and ones yet to come, I want to mark the albums that have already come out that might be forgotten later.

I've paved my own way with some gravel and some wine.Honorable Mention: Gravel and Wine by Gin Wigmore

Oh, it kills me that I can’t put this higher on my list. I mean, I could , but the hair splitter that I am feels like it would be cheating since this album was only released in the US this year. It came out everywhere else in the world back in 2011. Still, Gin Wigmore’s brand of retro folk rock and roll has made me more excited than I’ve been in a long time about discovering a new artist. Part Betty Boop and part Loretta Lynn with a dose of whiskey and Coke, Wigmore’s Gravel and Wine is an energetic and emotional record about forging your own path after being defined by others for so long. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that producer Butch Walker has background vocals all over this record that are in perfect balance with Wigmore. If they ever did an album together, I’d be the first in line to buy.

Favorite Tracks: ‘Black Sheep’, ‘Man Like That’, ‘Sweet Hell’

6.) The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake

Oh, how the prodigal son of pop returns. I would be lying if I sad I hadn’t been I'll be on my suit and tie shit.anticipating this day after years of watching Justin pursue acting and only sing with The Lonely Island and that one Timbaland song filled with terrible fast food puns. So naturally, the release of The 20/20 Experience was highly anticipated. I was a bit uncertain when I first heard ‘Suit and Tie’, but the more I warmed up to the song and the rest of the album, it was easy to see that it was a natural evolution from FutureSex/LoveSounds while calling in other influences. The long, almost orchestral pop tracks harken back a certain Prince groove while also pulling in influences from big band and classic R&B. I’m curious to see what Part 2 will bring from the cutting room floor, but the current Experience is pretty strong.

Favorite Tracks: ‘Mirrors,’ ‘That Girl,’ ‘Spaceship Coupe’

We all need some monsters...5.) Famous Monsters by  The Ford Theatre Reunion

Ford Theatre Reunion is not an easy band to explain to people who don’t know them. Hell, they’re not an easy band to explain to people who know them. They’re punk rock and metal, but also part klezmer and folk storytellers at the same time. I’m fairly certain that the band feeds off that cognitive dissonance to find new ways to trip up their listeners. I say that with all the love in the world for a band that will write satan@satan.satan on our email list. FTR’s latest release Famous Monsters deals with just that: monsters. About the fictional ones, the ones who will take them on, the very real ones that sneak into our lives, and how they’re very necessary to living. It is an extremely fun album that if you’re not paying attention too well, will sneak up on you with the horrors in the lyrics. Huh… I guess that makes Famous Monsters a monster in its own right.

Favorite Tracks: ‘The Ballad of Buffalo Jones,’ ‘Panzer Klaus,’ ‘Famous Monsters’

4.) The Devil Herself by Megan Jean and the KFBMister, can you tell if I'll be buried alone?

Speaking of monsters, here’s another album dealing with monsters in the most delightfully twisted way. I’ve already talked about this album at Steampunk Chronicle, but The Devil Herself is a wonderfully dark musical that deals with the supernatural and brings the supernatural into our boring lives. Megan’s bigger than life voice and Byrne’s folk accompaniment is what really drives it home and makes it the dark magic musical it is.

Favorite Tracks: ‘These Bones,’ ‘Skeletons,’ ‘Hometown Hero’

I'll attack you once, you attack me back!3.) Rated Heart by Professor Shyguy

Professor Shyguy calls him “the poor nerd’s Justin Timberlake” and for good reason. Writing some of the nerdiest dance songs ever heard, the good Professor backs it up with dance moves, high energy, and a sweet falsetto tenor that ties it all together. On his second album Rated Heart, there’s a lot of the same nerdy topics that range from hilarious to kind of heart-breaking, but there’s also a lot of experimentation. ‘Science, Life, & ABCs’ is mind blowing when you’re made aware of the formula behind the song, and ‘Keywords & Dubstep’ brings him into the world of EDM as he sings about memes and Youtube. Fun and extremely catchy, Professor Shyguy merges the worlds of geekdom and pop with ease.

Favorite Tracks: ‘Keywords & Dubstep,’ ‘Weak,’ ‘Destroy Metroid’

2.) Random Access Memories by Daft PunkI'm up all night to get lucky.

If you want to be a cynical bastard, you could blame Daft Punk for the current dirge of EDM. Coming before others with the highly acclaimed Discovery, it’s hard not to see how Daft Punk influenced so many electronic artists in this current age. Especially with their mostly electronic album Human After All. It was that influence that drove the French duo to go the opposite direction with Random Access Memories. Instead of creating a purely electronic album, Daft Punk dove into the archives of what influenced them and created a disco album. A gorgeous one that uses mostly live instruments and old school synth techniques. It is probably the most jarring release to come out this year, but also one of the biggest risks-big rewards that I’ve heard in a while. What other band could make a straight up disco track (that may or may not be about Mexican monkeys according to multiple sources) with one of today’s biggest producers on lead vocal and have it take over the airwaves? No one, that’s who.

(Though, if you’re missing the more electronic Daft Punk, go listen to ‘On Sight,’ ‘Black Skinhead,’ ‘I Am a God,’ and ‘Send It Up’ off of Kanye West’s album Yeezus. If you like Pharrell Williams doing what he does best, go listen to ‘BBC’ off of Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail and stop giving your money to ‘Blurred Lines’.)

Favorite tracks: ‘Get Lucky,’ ‘Touch,’ ‘Instant Crush’

1.) Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy

I don't know where you're going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul?You saw this coming. I’ve had a huge blog post about this album as well as a ton of feelings on my Tumblr and in real life when I saw them at The Tabernacle. It’s just a damn good album that pushes Fall Out Boy’s own boundaries and brings the rock back to radio. To be honest, it might be on the top of my list at the end of the year, but Janelle Monae IS releasing The Electric Lady in September. We’ll see. Just drop every preconception you have about Fall Out Boy and go listen to that beautiful bastard of an album. You’ll thank me later.

Favorite Tracks: ‘Rat a Tat,’ ‘Save Rock and Roll,’ ‘Miss Missing You’

Well, that’s it for today’s post. Come back later this week when I’ll have my thoughts on Pacific Rim!

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Music

 

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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...

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Music

 

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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…

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

 

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Even Punk Rockers Deserve Respect

Hello readers! Sorry for the lack of updates in the past month. I’m afraid that my blinders went on as I headed for the finish line of university. Which, by the way, ended up being a successful run.

As my formal return to my blog, I wanted to speak about something related to my Journalism degree and interests in music. It’s been a topic that’s been on my mind since Patrick Stump spoke candidly about his depression and lack of motivation brought on by disrespectful “fans” at his shows, but came back to the surface when Tom Gabel of Against Me! came out as Transgender, and that she will soon be adopting the name of Laura Jane Grace.

Now, maybe these two topics seem so far apart, especially with my own unfamiliarity with Against Me!, but both of these topics bring up issues of respect in both the fan community and in journalism.

Patrick’s issues seem to stem from some members of the Fall Out Boy fan community. It’s a problem that all the members of Fall Out Boy have been facing since the band went on hiatus, and it’s the fan community’s unwillingness to change. I can understand the frustration and wishing Fall Out Boy would get back together. I especially know what it’s like to not be happy with the direction the project is going. However, there’s a difference between not being happy with something, and constantly berating someone both online and at their shows.

I mean, seriously. What makes someone think it’s appropriate to pay $20-$50 for a show just to tell someone that you liked them better when they were fat? That’s not just terrible manners and general horribleness, that’s wasteful spending on top of it. And all because they think telling someone that they think he’s horrible now will send him back to the band he used to play in? Well, guess what? Patrick Stump is now reluctant to go back to music. How’s that for results?

I haven’t seen much terrible fan reaction from Against Me! fans about Tom, but there were plenty of reports that initially didn’t respect her pronoun preference that were later changed. The AP style guide dictates that a reporter has to respect what the person identifies as/presents themselves as, but shouldn’t that be obvious before something goes to print?

Of course, there will always be the people, journalists or not, who won’t respect gender pronouns and name changes and who will act like this will kill the band.

Friends, journalists and fans, I ask you to have some sense of respect when dealing with things like this. Whether they be someone you love creating music that might not be up to your standards, living as the gender they truly identify with, or whatever else it may be, you’re still dealing with a human being trying to live their life. A performer is not a robot, and you never know if your negative words are going to effect them or not. I’m not asking to be completely uncritical, but don’t be a dick about what you don’t like or don’t understand. And as a journalist, you have to be fair in your assessment.

And, of course, respectful of what someone is going through.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in General, Internet, Music

 

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Black Cards, we need to talk.

Hello my dear readers! Have you missed me? All apologies for going so long between posts. Getting settled into a new dimension can be rather jarring and I had to take a bit of a break after the speed run that was the year end review week. While I was gone, I made some plans for future reviews and my latest article went up at Steampunk Chronicle.

However, today’s subject is not entirely a happy one. In fact, it is what is commonly called a “Come to Jesus meeting” in the American South.

Black Cards, I need to have a few words with you.

If you don’t know, Black Cards is the current project of Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz. Initially starting out as a four piece band, the Black Cards had an impeccable way of mixing older influences with electronica music. Futurism with a good dash of retro, if you will. This was especially evident on their first single ‘Club Called Heaven’. The speakeasy victrola is well balanced with the electronic keyboard and the video even features lead singer Bebe Rexha as Jan in the Pan from The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.

Or should I say former lead singer? I’ll get to that after the video.

For the past year, the band had been working on songs for an album that was dubbed “The Unicorn” by fans. Occasionally, Wentz would leak demos of songs they had been working on and a few songs managed to make it out. My personal favorite would have to be ‘Dominoes’, but my friend Thaddea prefers ‘Take Me Down (Higher)’. For a while though, all we were getting was remixes of songs that weren’t by the Black Cards.

Then, on January 11th, this happened.

Without any warning or formal statement, the band’s bio was changed to show that the only members left in the band were Wentz and keyboardist Spencer Peterson. Every picture and song that included Bebe had been taken down. Fans were left confused for TWO DAYS before Bebe finally released a statement on her Facebook page that she was no longer in the band. It took Pete a whole two hours after that to release a statement about it through the Black Cards page. And of course, due to Pete Wentz’s confusing language, it was up to James Montgomery of MTV to clear up the news that Black Cards was going to keep doing stuff without Bebe.

…Where do I even begin about how very wrong this is?

It’s not the fact that Black Cards is continuing on without their lead singer. It is upsetting that a great talent like Rexha will no longer be in the group, but that’s not what is really wrong with this situation. Bands lose and gain members all the time. It can be through mutual decisions, sudden surprises, and just generally getting screwed over. The parting of the ways for Bebe and Black Cards is relatively tame in comparison to some.

What is really wrong with this situation is how poorly handled the whole thing was by Black Cards, Crush Management, and Pete Wentz.

First off, Wentz’s statement should have come out first. Not Rexha’s. Not the changes in the Facebook page. Wentz and Crush should have been upfront from the beginning that Rexha was no longer in the band. He should have also been a bit clearer about what the future of Black Cards will be. The average reader would probably not know that saying “The black cards are dead. Long live the black cards”  means there’s a regime change, not an ending.

Also, there is no assurance to the fans. None. I realize that the mixtape is coming out soon, but by only leaving your remixes of Gym Class Heroes and Rihanna on your page for the time being isn’t really assuring fans that the deck is being reshuffled. It just makes it seem like Black Cards has become just another remix project. If you want to let your fans know everything is going to be fine and that you know what you are doing, prove it.

The thing that I always come back to on this whole mess though is the Facebook bio. It was changed without warning and not even acknowledged for two days.

Two. Days.

That is a lot of time for confusion and animosity to fester. It was just made worse by the fact that the recently departed Rexha was the one who had to speak up first. I’m not sure if changing the Facebook bio early was a mistake by someone at management, or a deliberate attempt at sneaking her departure in under an already closely watched radar, but it was disrespectful. It was disrespectful to the fans and it was disrespectful to Bebe by trying to erase her life with the band without even acknowledging it was happening first.

Ultimately, I feel like this move has killed the Black Cards project before it even really got out of the gate. The album had been sitting on the shelf for a while, and now the voice behind those songs is gone. Wentz says he hopes that the songs with Rexha will see the light of day, but that’s no guarantee. The fan outrage and ship jumping has already started, and Pete Wentz will be fighting an uphill battle to prove that he didn’t waste everyone’s time with hopes and expectations of something cool and different. Considering the fact he already has to do that with trying to convince Fall Out Boy fans that he has to do this, that hill is getting pretty steep. It makes me worry that he’s going to end up tripping and fall backwards down the slope.

I’ve been wrong before, though. Perhaps there is an ace in the sleeve on this one, but the Black Cards are going to have to play it fast before losing the pot.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Music

 

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