by Alex Rivera
Upon first glance of “School Gyrls”, I thought “Dear God, spare me the agony of yet another wannabe girl group.” My thoughts were semi-correct.
I’m not going to lie, the beats in this song are really, really good. But, the vocals are somewhat of overkill. It doesn’t really sound like singing, but more like whining. Also, the random guy trying to sound like Lil Jon and screaming in the background doesn’t make it any better. Plus, the lyrics aren’t anything special. The entire song is about going to a party and dancing. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Honestly, this group sounds like Ke$ha, but worse (considering that I actually like Ke$ha). They can’t really sing, and the whole “cutesy” schoolgirl image has to go. Stop trying to gain a fan base by dressing like you’re half-naked in provocative outfits and singing like the Cheetah Girls. It’s not going to work.
By Alison Sikes NYU
Utah. A state known for its outdoor activities and scenic views, not for flash and bright colors. Alternative band Neon Trees hopes to electrify their home stateâ€™s reputation.Â Â Self-described as post-pop punk, Neon Treesâ€™ sound is infectious, entertaining, and dance-worthy.Â Â Lead singer Tyler Glenn accredits bands like Passion Pit and The Big Pink as well as French DJs to their enthralling music. These influences are apparent in their first single â€œAnimal.â€ The catchy song is a solid debut about comparing the start of a relationship toâ€¦well, to an animal. The upcoming video for â€œAnimalâ€ also takes from an interesting source of influenceâ€”Batman. As a teenager, Glenn loved superheroes like X-Men and of course, The Dark Knight. The band drew from their love of the Tim-Burton-directed Batman and paid homage to the Joker scene in which he and his cronies wreak havoc in an art gallery. Whether inspired by caped-crusaders or by electronic tastemakers, prepare for Neon Treesâ€™ forthcoming album, Habits, to be filled with seductive vocals and hard-edged tracks about the habits of a relationship. Be sure to give Habits a listen when it is released on March 23!
by Alexandra Rivera Boca Raton Community High School
Recently, the United States Department of Justice confirmed the merger between two of the largest ticket retailers in the country, TicketMaster and Live Nation. For avid concert-goers like me, this is probably the worst decision ever made in the world of music. Is any good going to come out of it?
The world of government anti-trust issues dates all the way back to the mid-1800s, post-Civil War era, when corporate giants such as John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan broke onto the scene with trusts and mega-corporations in the oil and banking industries. Fast-forward to 2010, and the predecessors for our anti-trust laws and governmental control over some companies sparked the beginning of this awful merger that victimizes fans across the country.
The merger clearly brings the two companies together and is now being called â€œLive Nation Entertainment, Inc.â€ to incorporate the titles of the two as well as to â€œreflect the combination of Live Nationâ€™s concert promotion expertise with Ticketmasterâ€™s world-class ticketing solutions and artist relationships,â€ according to the DOJ (whatever THAT means). The DOJ also states that â€œThrough this merger, the parties believe that the combined company will have the tools to develop new products, expand access, improve transparency and deliver artists and fans more choice. Â This will drive greater attendance at live events and bringing more value to all major constituents in the industry. The combined company also expects to pursue significant growth opportunities in markets around the world.â€ I rolled my eyes at the end of that statement.
As previously stated, I am an avid concert-goer. I attend at least three shows per year and sometimes the numbers increase, and ticket prices are already expensive to begin with, especially in the economic state that our nation is in. Throw all of the extra â€œservice feesâ€ and â€œprocessing chargesâ€ on top of a General Admission price and your $15.00 ticket shoots up to about twice of what itâ€™s worth. I usually buy my tickets from Live Nation, and they charge the same fees, but the prices are usually not that bad compared to TicketMasterâ€™s. Thus, TicketMaster merging with Live Nation is going to make the prices of tickets completely skyrocket into the clouds while simultaneously downsizing the amount of people that are going to spend their hard-earned money on tickets. TicketMasterâ€™s so-called â€œticketing solutionsâ€ are just ways to make people spend more money than they have to.
Also, how is this merger going to increase the attendance at shows? When I go to shows, theyâ€™re usually at smaller venues, such as Culture Room (Ft. Lauderdale) or Revolution Live (Ft. Lauderdale), and even then the venues donâ€™t reach their maximum capacities. As a matter of fact, Culture Room receives more shows because they sell their tickets so cheap that it costs Revolution too much money to hold a show there. But, this merger wonâ€™t increase attendance, itâ€™ll just decrease it, because no one has the money to go see their favorite artists anymore, and if they do go to shows then they will attend them at smaller venues that sell tickets for more affordable prices. The days of shows at sold-out arenas and theaters are far from over, and the times of shows at underground clubs or bars are ever-present.
Aside from the merger directly affecting fans, it also directly affects bands. From their perspective, the merger means less and less fans at shows since the price of renting venues isÂ constantly increasing and also because ticket sales are so low. According to Yahoo, artists and bands are not thrilled about this at all:
â€œBruce Springsteen, already furious with Ticketmaster for directing fans to a subsidiary selling tickets for above-face value, recently posted a statement on his Web site saying a deal with Live Nation could end up â€˜returning us to a near-monopoly situation in music ticketing.â€™â€
Clearly, this merger poses hundreds of problems and it hasnâ€™t made people very happy. America is supposed to be a democracy, which also means that mega-corporations cannot monopolize and break our anti-trust laws just to get more money to line their overstuffed pockets. With that said, although we as fans may not have a lot of power to do something about this, the only thing we can do is continue to support our artists and try not to let the merger get in the way of what we want as an audienceâ€”real live entertainment.
Disco Biscuits “Planet Anthem”
by Dina Kolman
Have you ever wanted to time travel? Strap your shoes on and just dance upon the decades? Bask in the radiance of the times, and live throughout the history of music; the psychedelic sixties, the groovy seventies, or even immerse in the glamorous groove of dance beats in the 80s. The Disco Biscuits make that dream a reality in their 5th studio album,Â Planet Anthem.Â
The album begins with “Loose Change,” a track that effortlessly epitomizes their style and sets the stage for a good listen. Though slightly cliche in lyrics, repeating “money is the root of all evil,” unique cries of techno emerge through the enchanting, echoing melodies. It feels like a spin off an 80s dance mix, mirroring styles of Depeche Mode.Â
“On Time” proves that one can be upbeat and insightful. The refreshing, metaphoric lyrics upload the listener into a digital world where women are computers, and oh so irresistible. The blending of pop, hip-hop, and dance with electronic undertones is masterfully done. The lyrics are hypnotic and intriguing, in this riveting song.Â
In their third track, “Widgets,” the Disco Biscuits bravely deviate from their usual “party jam” tempo and wander into a world of passion; the finger-picking of a classical guitar is inviting and foreboding. “I’m on the outside looking in” at a tantalizing track.
The Disco Biscuits have a tremendous way of transitioning between various styles while remaining true to themselves, and sounding natural. “You and I” is a song of heavier rock with a 70s punk influence. In a flash, the song shows hip-hop beats and visions of break dancers dance in my head. Just when you think there aren’t any more changes, they provide us with a trance-like hook. Magical!
“Konkrete” accentuates the Disco Biscuits’ eccentric, artsy side. The cool, jazzy intro captures the listener, while the lyrics and sound effects are eerie and haunting. “Uber Glue” puts a spotlight on their instrumental side. The light drum taps are lively and there are little words, allowing for free interpretation.Â
“Rain Song” is unique in that it has an Asian sound, of mystery and suspense. The woman’s voice is beautiful and adds to their versatility. In “Fish Out of Water,” the Disco Biscuits share their wildest thoughts. One can see into the their electronic dreams. This track reminds me of a 70s jam. The guitar solo gives one goose-bumps as the piano plays away. “Gonna make a rebel out of me.”
From the Disco Biscuits’ songs, one can hear their passion and creativity. We all knew they had soulful rhymes, but in “Sweatbox,” that there is rapping! This is just another way they are unique. They are the pop art of music; they are refreshing in their mixing of old and new sounds.Â
The track “The City” is a toe-tapping song with more of a story-telling style. He speaks in rhythm with a rock background, infusing chants and trumpets, with lyrics that capture the listener. It is a song of hopes, “sitting on a mountaintop”, gazing below at the city. It is a song of contemplative matter over nature, people, and of course, the safety and familiarity of “the city.”Â
In “Big Wrecking Ball,” I can imagine a band like Weezer, rocking out to the upbeat, guitar-heavy rhythms. This song shows their fun, alternative side. In the closing track, “Vacation,” the Disco Biscuits, once again, fuse together differing styles successfully. It is slow, eerie, and distinguished. The lyrics are thoughtful, “don’t wait everyday my love .” The Disco Biscuits cleverly mix upbeat, catchy beats, with passionate, heartfelt lyrics.
The Disco Biscuits are truly unique, passionate, slightly quirky, and random. This seemingly clashing combination works brilliantly for them. With tasteful lyrics and a wide array of sounds, they create a medley of enjoyable tunes. Soaring through the times, they have collected the best music inspiration and have combined all of the styles into an album that showcases their eccentric ways; they have rap, electronic, rock, jazz, pop and more! Providing inspiration for future bands to come, the Disco Biscuits take creativity and uniqueness to an entire new level, even that of another planet!
by Diana Ciuca
Santa seems to be messing with me. I got some S-S-Stuff this Christmas. No, that’s not a stutter. It just so happens that some elf was looking through the music dictionary and decided to send me a stack of s-starting bands. He also attached a note with the words, “Santa Says Sorry”…And for good reason. Since we’re on the subject of studying the structure of the band names, we might as well also focus on the titles of their songs – all of them scream angst and non-conformity:Â Scar Symmetry’s Noumenon and Phenomnon off of their album Dark Matter Dimensions (2009), Samael’s Black Hole off of Above (2009),Â Suffocation’s Cataclysmic Purification off of their album Blood Oath (2009),Â Sonic Syndicate’s Burn This City from their forthcoming album in 2010, and finally,Â Sonata Arctica with Flag in the Ground off of Days of Grays. (2009).
But, to better understand the great weight of all of this metal, I’ve decided to make a guide to help myself and you in the meantime.
How to be (Heavy Metal) Hardcore
They’re more scared of you than you are of them. They loathe society. They are commonly known as punks, outcasts, rebels… but don’t be so quick to judge what is commonly known as HEAVY METAL.
Step 1: Appearance.
Hello! Dreads, much? A valley girl accent sounds worse to them then their grating voices may ever sound to us. Nevertheless, to be truly metal, your hair has to be either too long, too short (in all the wrong places, not there at all, or too dirty (example: Suffocation). The main singer in the follow A bit more difficult to bear and transform than the mass of whatever growing on your head is the coloring of your skin. Yep, tattoos. Prepare to get tatted up usually with an anarchist symbol or dragons. Maybe you will see some designs you like in the following videos, especially on the guitarists’ forearms. Last, but sometimes least, is the clothing. Keep it dark, dreary, and different. Surprisingly, tight black shirts are not as metro-sexual as one might believe (see Scar Symmetry’s lead singer as an example).
Step Two: Video Magic
We’ve covered the general basics, so let’s move on to the videos – appearance in action. Thankfully, unlike pop videos, the bands do not attempt to recreate the scene they are singing about. This occurs because of two reasons: 1. if this were in fact the case, most Heavy Metal music videos wouldn’t look that different (more on that later) and, 2. the video usually tries to capture the band in action, playing, since this is their most pure environment.
Black and white
although really cheap, this effect worked well to show contrast inÂ Scar Symmetry’s Noumenon and Phenomenon
A better documentation of this effect is evident in Samael’sÂ Black Hole
In this video, they attempt to provoke nostalgia in a very 70s concert setting. They also used an old-video border (lame!) to enhance this effect. A for effort, but C for artistic creativity.
I know, right? You’re probably thinking that cartoons are such a childish idea. But, of all these heavy metal concepts, this is the best integrated one. Cartoons aid in depicting the utter havoc expressed through the song lyrics. Also, like in Black Hole, these cartoons/drawing repeatedly strike the same concept to ingrain an idea into your memory.
Quick Camera Angles
Although this may have the consequence of making your audience nauseous, this effect is apparently hardcore. All of the videos included this to a greater or lesser degree.
If it’s not in someone’s garage or an abandoned dirty factory, then some might say that you’re taking this “Heavy Metal thing too far, man.”
Nevertheless, an example of a more progressive Heavy Metal Video is Sonic Syndicate’sÂ Burn This City which features some classy FX, like a helicopter scene along with a artistic background (of wrecked city rummage)
See Samael’sÂ Black Hole,
and Sonic Syndicate’sÂ Burn This City
Rammstein, Anvil, and Kiss all mastered the use of fire in live concerts. However, fire in live videos (albeit ‘hardcore’) doesn’t have the same desire effect. Scar Symmetry featured the most pathetic recreation of fire using a green screen which made them look more penniless than ruthless.
Along with fire comes burning and blood.
a symbol for anger, hate, pain, and suffering. Widely used to emphasize a certain point and goes well in contrast to the widely used and abused black and white effect.
See Suffocation’sÂ Cataclysmic Purification
Obvious, but true. You cannot achieve any level of hardcore-d-ness if you are incapable of producing an intense headbang. Just like machine guns, the guitarists (most often) attack the camera with their head banging flair/hair.
The more you move your head, the better you are at being hardcore.
In Suffocation’s video, the band members move so much that one would assume that they are absolutely faceless.
Step Three: Music
ahh, yes, we finally arrive to the musical aspect of this sub-culture. Heavy metal music has 3 distinct melodic components: Percussion, Guitar, and voice. Also, it has the ever recurring theme ofÂ isolation, death, depression which they use to attract a distinct audience.
Continuous percussion results in a hardcore headache. Sonic Syndicate, for instance, alternated the drum pounding with vocals and light to moderate guitar.
Nonetheless, the drums need to be banged extremely hard. The more action the better. If you can actually break your drums (or your arms) during a show, mad props to you.
Guitar riffs can be frequently over-used, such as in Scar Symmetry’s song. Again, in moderation, this effect will work well especially a bit after the halfway point of the song. Led Zeppelin was famous for their guitar solos. Sonic Syndicate and Sonata Arctica managed to skillfully demonstrate enough guitar to sound hardcore, but not too much to end up sounding like some punks.
No, really. Gimme a throaty scream, growl, anything. It’s not just to create noise (although I would disagree), but it’s purpose is to reflect emotion.
In moderation, this effect can equate to a nice balance of actual singing and strong growls.
The growls also create an interesting rythmn by balancing out the percussion (as in Suffocation’s song).
Light vocals can create too much of a similarity to love ballads (which is soft/pillow/plushy metal).Â Sonata Arctica almost crossed the line with their (over)incorporation of soft vocals and extended ballads along with the desperate, “”Hope to hear from you soon,” lyrics. They also featured a Rush-like voice along with a keyboard-guitar (Key-tar!). This resulted in an eerie Hair-Metal mix of Pirates of The Carribean.
Need more help on being Hardcore? Just go to a show! For that, you’re going to need some protection (helmet, mouthguard, kneepads, life insurance). I’ll be sure to give you a How-to Article on that later. Don’t forget to keep listening and observing. Some good guides are Vh1′s heavy Metal Documentaries, the Anvil Docudrama, and my personal favorite THIS IS SPINAL TAP.
Interviews from The Buzz Bake Sale: Our Lady Peace, Hailstorm and After Midnight Project are up! Â Check them out under Shows: The Rock Star Stories.
by Sami Ponoroff
Allison Iraheta’s debut album, Just Like You, is a disappointment. Although her vocals sound great, as they did on the last season of American Idol (she placed 4th), her songs are lackluster and without meaning. Many of the songs are based on the ideas of relationships and love, as most are, but are only so in a shallow way. One of the worst songs, entitled Robot Love, spends a good part of the song discussing how her boyfriend prefers texting to her. The many technological references are childish and meaningless. This album does not really appeal to anyone over the age of 11, and, let’s be honest, all little kids are looking for is a fun beat. All in all, Iraheta’s debut album is a bust. There is only hope that on her next album her killer voice will be accompanied by killer songs.