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Songs You Should Listen to Part Four
La Dispute, "Said the King to the River"
I discovered this amazing Michigan band (with a stupid name. Named after the 1744 prose comedy play by Pierre de Marivaux) on Nov 4th, opening for Thrice. They are a cross between Glassjaw (see below), MewithoutYou and Rage Against the Machine. Very intense live and on record. Their trademark seems to be vocalist Jordan Dreyer's inability to control his voice, going from singing to screaming seemingly at random. Their music could best be described as spoken word poetry set to aggressive music. The rapid fire rhymes and deliberate guitars will get this song stuck in your head. They even have a series of records called "Hear Hear" which explores this idea. This is a great song that covers the totality of their musical interests.
"'Up, M'Lady--Pack your things, this place is not your home. Nor was it ever, sever every tie, tonight we ride. Tonight we ride.'"
Dredg, "Bug Eyes"
Dredg, from Los Gatos, California, is one of the most amazing bands that a lot of people don't know about. Their music is well thought out and intricate without being pretentious. The lyrics are obtuse but not annoyingly so. Vocalist and slide guitarist Gavin Hayes has an operatic quality to his voice that loses nothing in the live performance. The rhythm section of Drew Roulette (Bass) and Daniel Campanella (drums) offers the right amount of melody and rhythm and Mark Engles (guitar) plays odd chords reminiscent of Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers). Catch Without Arms (2005, Interscope), in typical Dredg fashion, took eight months to write and ten more to record. Like most of their records, Catch Without Arms is a concept album, this one focusing on opposites, particularly positives versus negatives. It's a phenomenal record highlighted by this song.
"Your journey back to birth its haunting you/ it's haunting you/Your departure from the earth, its haunting you, it's haunting you"
One of The Best Rock Bios I've Ever Read
Pearl Jam, "Even Flow"
Oh pearl Jam, how I love you and your uber-anti-commercialism, your blues based grunge rock, your flannel, your long hair, your aging with dignity rocker status, your album Ten (1991, Interscope). PJ has been churning out rock 'n' roll classics since the 90's (earlier if you count their respective stints in Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog), even creating one of the finest rock records of the 90's in Ten . Pearl Jam survived the initial grunge phase and has been going strong for twenty years as a great rock 'n' roll band. Even Flow , the second track off Ten, is a scathingly real account of life on the streets for a homeless youth. It marked a trend in pearl jam's music: political lyrics, with feeling and true compassion and empathy. These guys practice what they preach with their infamous war against Ticketmaster over ticket pricing an only one of many examples. True rock legends, when i hear them on classic rock radio stations it makes me feel old, but it also makes me want to put on a flannel shirt and some long johns and stand in the rain.
"Even Flow/Thoughts Arrive Like Butterflies/He don't know/so he chases them away."
A live version
Glassjaw, "Ape Dos Mil"
I love New York's Glassjaw! Vocalist Daryl Polumbo suffers from Crohn's Disease and you can hear his rage, his vitriol, his pain, in the way he sings and screams and sings again. Ape Dos Mil is the highlight from the 2002 angst-core masterpiece, Worship and Tribute (Warner Brothers). Ape Dos Mil has a driving bass line, spare yet insistent guitars and of course, Polumbo's unique and instantly catchy vocals. Glassjaw is not for the faint of heart, both musically and lyrically. They're still kickin' around writing kick ass songs about the usual rock n roll themes: sex, drugs, pain, loss, angst. They're a very cerebral band with a heavy edge. Check them out.
"Yeah he's a winner/He's a g**damn sinner/While he dines I'm on the wrong side of the day."
What do you get when you combine 2Pac's harsh street smart rhymes and baritone delivery with Bruce Hornsby's famous hook and melody? You get a true posthumous hip hop classic. Released after 2Pac's still unsolved murder in 1996, Changes tells the story of the black man's struggle to progress and gain acceptance in society. Fairly typical gangsta rap themes, but poignant and important coming from 2Pac, who's own stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, is an imprisoned revolutionary. 2Pac offers highly intelligent rhymes, and, as an avid reader of everyone from Shakespeare to Vonnegut, he offers an intellectual view to the "Thug Life". I also advise you to check out his book of poetry (Listed underneath his photo). This is one of my staple karaoke songs.
"I see no changes/ wake up in the mornin' and i ask myself/ Is life worth livin' should I blast myself?"
His poetry book/spoken word CD
Glen Hansard, "When Your Mind's Made Up"
Apparently Ireland's Glen Hansard has been making music for a long time, as a member of the Irish folk rock band The Frames and in the duo Swell Season with one time lover Marketa Irglova. it was not until the film Once (2006, Fox Searchlight, directed by John Carney, starring Hansard and Irglova as "Guy" and "Girl") that I became aware of the brilliance of Mr Hansard. The most recognizable song from the film is the smash hit Falling Slowly , but I've always been drawn to this one, with it's unique time signature (5/4) and nearly hushed vocals. Like many Hansard penned tunes, the song builds to a crescendo, driven by his impassioned vocals and Irglova's haunting piano. The film is excellent (though subtitles are a MUST), the soundtrack is amazing, and Hansard is a genius. Sorry for all the cliches, but it's true. Check out the film and the soundtrack.
"You see/You're just like everyone/When the shit falls all you want to do is run away/And hide all by yourself."
The BEST album of the 90's
Gin Blossoms, "29"
I will make a bold statement here, which i am not prone to do (;-p) that New Miserable Experience (1992, A & M) is the greatest record of the 90's. jangly, country, pop, alt rock tunes with infectious hooks and themes as sad as the album title suggests make this album irresistible. 29 is the song that defined my 29th year. The song is very melancholy yet upbeat, like every other song written by late guitarist Doug Hopkins (Who committed suicide in 1993 shortly after his departure from the band. He was removed due to erratic behavior due to his alcoholism. This inspired the title of their second record, Congratulations, I'm Sorry, because people would always approach them and say "Congratulations on your success, sorry about Doug.") and with his passing, the band lost something it has never regained. Even though they're still writing songs and touring, there's something about New Miserable Experience that forever fills me with a happy sense of nostalgia and takes me back to my childhood.
"29, you'd think I'd know better/Living like a kid/'Cause when my lies may seem less than clever/It's when I fall for it."
Mumford and Sons, "Little Lion Man"
London's Mumford and Sons are bringing back the banjo big time. Of course,with every member of the band being a multi-instrumentalist, you never know what kind of eclectic sounds this band will bring, but you know they'll be good. They primarily make alternative folk rock that's insanely catchy and decidedly un-British. Little Lion Man earned Grammy nominations for Best Rock Song and the band itself was nominated as best new artist in 2010. Easy listening yet intense, soft spoken yet in your face, Mumford & Sons are quickly rising on my personal album charts and Little Lion Man is my favorite track off of 2010's Sigh No More and is a song that is constantly song and hummed around my house. it gets stuck in your head. In a good way.
"Rate yourself and rape yourself/Take all the courage you have left/Wasted on fixing all the problems /That you made in your own head."
Further Seems Forever, "How to Start a Fire"
Florida's Further Seems Forever formed from the ashes of Christian hardcore act Strongarm became one of the premier emo pop punk bands of the last decade. Their original vocalist, Chris Carabba, left after their debut album to form the highly successful band Dashboard Confessional. How to Start a Fire (2003 Tooth and Nail) was the first and only record to feature second vocalist Jason Gleason (who also performed a great cover of 'NSync's Bye Bye Bye with the group for the Punk Goes Pop record series before departing in 2004, during the recording of the last studio album, Hide Nothing .) and How to Start a Fire is the upbeat title and opening track of that album. Great hook and great lyrics, the song shows hints of the groups hardcore roots with the chunky guitars, but still lie firmly in that ever so ambiguous and oft mocked genre of emo. This is a great song from a great Floria band. They've recently announced that they've reformed with the original lineup (read, Chris Carabba on vocals) and if you get a chance to see them at a local club near you, do it. They are a fantastic live band.
"This is the last time we will ever bleed to feel alive/Consider this a rehearsal/your heart of hearts rekindled."
Mae, "Embers and Envelopes"
Virginia's Mae is one of those bands that keeps putting out fantastic records (and I recommend owning all of them) but, there's something about their 2003 debut Destination: Beautiful (Tooth and Nail) that continues to stick with me. It's unassuming euro rock with catchy hooks and interesting lyrics make for a classic, easy listening record, with some bite to it. Embers and Envelopes remains my favorite song by them with the funk influenced guitar riff, twirling keyboards, sweet harmonies, it's a song that has an important message (forgiveness) but doesn't flaunt it or come off as trite or phony. It's just a charming song from a young band that had no idea they would grow into a mainstay of the alternative rock soon, a decade later. I recommend this song without reservation. Plus, how often do you get to hear the word "Envelopes" in a song?
"Please consider all things trite/forgiveness will be the thing that gets us by/I know to have something like this/broken is hard to fix."
Thanks for Reading.
A FREELANCE WRITER, HONORS STUDENT AND GOVER PRIZE FINALIST, JUSTIN W. PRICE (AKA, PDXKARAOKEGUY)is a POET, SHORT STORY, BIOGRAphy AND HUMOR WRITER. HIS POETRY COLLECTION, DIGGING TO CHINA, WAS RELEASED FEBRUARY 2ND, 2013 BY SWEATSHOPPE PUBLICATIONS AND IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.com, Barnes and Noble and through YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER.
HIS WORK WILL ALSO BE FEATURED IN BEST NEW FICTION (2014 EDITION), AND HAS APPEARED PREVIOUSLY IN THE RUSTY NAIL, EFICTION, THE CRISIS CHRONICLES, THE HELLROARING REVIEW, BURNINGWORD, THE WHISTLING FIRE, SEE SPOT RUN AND THE BELLWETHER REVIEW.
HE WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER, EDITOR, AND GHOST WRITER, AND IS WORKING TOWARDS HIS PH.D. HE LIVES IN A SUBURB OF PORTLAND, OREGON WITH HIS WIFE, ANDREA, THEIR LABRADOODLE, BELLA, SCHNOODLE, SAUVEE AND BLACK MOOR GOLDFISH, HOWARD WOLOWITZ.
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Check out the other installments in this Series:
- Ten Songs You Should Listen To Part One
Need some new music to listen to, or want to wax nostalgic on some previously heard tunes? Here's ten suggestions!
- Ten Songs You Should Listen To Part Two
another selection of ten songs suggestions. Includes Elton John, Circa Survive, Aerosmith, and others.
- Songs You Should Listen To Part Three
another installment of ten eclectic song suggestions. Features The Goo Goo Dolls, Blue Oyster Cult, Ray Charles, Death Cab for Cutie, Kings of Leon, Smashing Pumpkin, The Chariot, Nirvana, Poor Old Lu and Thrice.
- Ten Songs You Should Listen To Part Five
Part Five in a series. This one features songs by The Doobie Brothers, Blind Melon, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Bread, Metallica, Stone Temple Pilots, Sublime, Seal and The Choir
- Ten Songs You Should Listen To Part Six
A selection of ten songs you should listen to. Includes selections from Sponge, Bayside, Oasis, Dr. Dre,K's Choice, Live, Pantera, The Prayer Chain, Chiodos and Mana.