Thursday, April 11, 2013

'Take It Away' The Used (Throwback Thursday)

Where do I begin with this song, or even this album?

I remember the first time I saw this video I was hooked! I wasn't a very big fan of the Used at the time, but the visuals and the lyrics to the song sucked me right in.

The big pop, starting the song off with a shot gun blast into a heavy and fast guitar rift that simmers down into the descriptive fight in oneself. "I'm lying to myself and this dagger's my excuse." Then when it hit the chorus, "Burn the Sun, burn the light, take take take take take it away. Take my hand, take my life." As one Youtube commenter said, "This escalated quickly." The song is super intense, especially in the "brothers and sisters..." part.

Oh yeah, and Bert McCracken is an over all great vocalist switching between guttural screams, soft whiney whispers, and aggressive sing alongs.

2004's In Love and Death came out during the peak of similar sounding band's (My Chemical Romance, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, Silverstein...) best albums and yet like most of the others was able to stand out on it's own. The Used exploded off of this album, especially when they released "All That I've Got." The song was in constant rotation on KRock and Fuse (when both played music.)

Over the last couple of years I kind of lost track of The Used, but I know they are still out there making great music and still have a loyal fan base. However, I won't soon forget the first time I heard "Take It Away," and the rest of that record, which could easily be in contention for one of the best albums to come out in the mid 2000s in rock.

So check it out below, and take a trip back to 2004.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Criminal Risk's The Art of Dropping Names by Zackary Miller

Guest Blog
by Zackary Miller

Back in 2011, New Jersey punk rockers A Criminal Risk released their debut record, The Art of Dropping Names. The album, although short, is packed full of riffs and choruses that will undoubtedly ingrain themselves in your brain.

Reminiscent of early blink-182, “Brooklyn” and “Heartless Romantic” work the listener into a frenzy with the drummer stealing the show and driving the band forward at a relentless pace, right into the title track.  “The Art of Dropping Names” proves to be much different than the last two tracks, with more of a focus on vocals rather than infectious guitar riffs. With an old-school edge to his voice, the singer belts out the lyrics with power that had not been seen yet in full.

These three tracks, along with the solid “Sarah Sanity,” prove to be the high points of the album. The others, although catchy and enjoyable, don't seem to be quite as memorable. “Stand Alone,” the ballad of the album, is heartfelt, but at five minutes in length, only serves to slow the record down.

Every record has its speed-bumps, but the overall momentum and hooks that highlight the The Art of Dropping Names are enough to convince me that this band is not to be taken lightly. They proved that again recently, with the release of their new single “311.” With a more refined instrumental sound and aggressive vocals, A Criminal Risk demonstrate that they do not plan on taking the “pop” approach to punk. They will do it their way, and nothing is more punk than that.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

'Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team)' Taking Back Sunday - Throwback Thursday

Wow, can you believe Taking Back Sunday's debut album Tell All Your Friends came out 11 years ago?! It's really blowing my mind. TBS's first album is a certified classic among rock in the 2000s. You'd be pressed to find someone who didn't "grow up" on this album, or even say it was great despite their musical taste. You'd be even harder pressed to find someone who doesn't agree that every subsequent album of theirs has gotten worse.

The reason this record blew TBS out of the water was the very unique, sometimes, blunt, and even graphic depictions of teenage angst at it's finest. "Best friend's means I pull the trigger," "You've got this gun to my head," "If I could slit my throat...I'd apologize for bleeding on your shirt," couple lines like these with punky, still developing at the time as a genre, "post hardcore" music and incredible back-up vocals; you have the recipe for success.

Adam Lazzara is the charismatic frontman to the group, but many thought John Nolan the guitarist and other vocalist, was the brains. This is believable due to them not being able to match the song quality of Tell All Your Friends once Nolan left the group after the first release. However, it wasn't until their second album, Where You Want to Be (2004) that they received global success, and 2006s Louder Now where they were heralded as a superstar band because of their new found mainstream appeal. However, that signature raw sound from the first album was lacking.

After 2006 the band had a couple more lineup changes before going back to the original lineup with Nolan in 2010.

The song this week is "Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team." This is probably the band's most well known song and the video is styled after Fight Club (How cool is that?)

This song, along with the rest of the album was instrumental in my development as a song writer. In those days before I did rap/rock, I played drums and did backups for a couple of bands while writing a lot of the lyrics. Taking Back Sunday has the ability to make you try to figure out what the heck they were talking about, and that's what I wanted to do. The same can be said for Brand New, which is a whole other blog completely. I wanted to have Adam's stage presence too with his patented head shake and looking like he's destroying the mic. (Watch me next time and think about that...) Also, TBS, Brand New, and The Used pretty much helped popularize the whole cringe worthily said, "emo" now known as post hardcore genre.

Without further adieu, here's the video for one of my favorite songs of all time!