Monday, July 31, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #127

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Folsom Prison Blues, by Josh Turner

This is a cover I have REALLY been digging the past few days. Not only do I like the song in this key better, but the vocal harmonies, lead guitar work, and overall vibe just strikes me in all the right ways. Normally I don't think much of hipsters playing acoustic guitars, but this guy and his buddy really knocked this Johnny Cash classic out of the park. I will without any hesitation give credit where credit is due in this situation.

2. Feel Like Making Love, by Bad Company

This is another one of those songs you can't escape from hearing a dozen times per day if you listen to your local classic rock station, but that's ok. This one is over played for a reason. Bad Company rocks and this is one of many of their songs that proves it. It's the perfect blend of laid back acoustic groove and hard rock in your face attitude. It knows when to go into overdrive and when to ease off the throttle. For sure a classic.

3. Careless Whisper, by George Michael

I don't care if this is one of the most overplayed pop songs of the 80's. I don't care if you think this song sucks. I think it's awesome. That saxophone melody is one of the most eargasmic and entrancing things that I have ever had the privilege of having my ears blessed with. Plus, George Michael had a pretty pleasant voice and some decent lyrical chops aside from that. Pro tip: if you want to seem more attractive to the sex you're attracted to, put this song on. It makes even the most mundane activities seem 100 times sexier.

4. Another Way to Die, by Jack White and Alicia Keys

I have mixed feelings about this song, but I still feel it's worth putting in the play list this week regardless. On the one hand, both Keys and White are incredibly talented individuals. This song has that classic Bond swagger to it while also bringing a modern edge. That said, I don't think their vocal styles blend very well. I think this song would sound better with just one or the other singing the whole thing. That aside, it's still a good tune to crank.

5. Born to Be Wild, by Steppenwolf

Another overplayed commercial rock radio song, but I find it irresistible nonetheless. This is THE song people go to when thinking of hard rocking axe pounding songs to crank while raising all kinds of mayhem and hell while tearing up the highway on a motorcycle. This is THE bad boy song. I totally get it. As much as I've gotten tired of hearing certain songs over and over and over throughout the years I'll always go to this song for such things as well.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore Open to One Final Deep Purple Show

Guitarist and cofounding member of Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore has not played a show with the band in 24 years. For the longest time they seemed to be at odds with one another, but over time things seem to have been smoothed over for the most part; so much so that Blackmore is now open to the idea of doing a one off final show with his old band for old times' sake.

In a recent interview with Rock N Roll Reporter, Blackmore opens up about his wish to jam with Purple one more time, saying:

“I think if they were interested and our dates didn't clash, I would perform a single show – for old times.

But I don’t believe that Deep Purple would be interested. They have their niche and wouldn't do it. We're friends and I have been doing my music for 20 years, while they have been doing it for 20 years. It's probably not likely to happen.

Their management wouldn’t like it – even if it was just for a single show. Their management wouldn’t allow it, I'm sure.”

This wouldn't be the first time Deep Purple's management had supposedly gotten in Blackmore's way. Blackmore wanted to attend the band's induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, but according to Blackmore their management had prevented him from doing so. That said, I'm not sure how I would feel about Blackmore being on stage with Deep Purple again. I mean, Ritchie doesn't exactly have that fire in him that made him play like a madman in a blazing whirlwind any more. He has definitely slowed down and softened his playing quite a bit. Then there is also the fact that Steve Morse has now been with the band for almost a quarter of a century at this point and has breathed life into the band that had quite frankly been gone since the late 80's. I would still eagerly watch such a performance, but I'm still not sure it's the best idea.

Writer's Moment:

After this post I am going to be having myself a little summer vacation. I have a lot going on today, Friday, and this whole weekend. That said, I'm going to take the rest of this week and all of next week off so I can just enjoy the Summer while it's still here without worrying about having to make a post. I will return on Sunday July 30th/early Monday July 31st.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Op-Ed Piece: Is There More to Being a Good Guitar Player Than Shredding?

When I first started playing guitar a decade ago, I wanted to be the next big guitar hero like many teens who pick up the axe. I had dreams of learning all the scales, chords, techniques, etc. and being on the same shred level as greats like Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Buckethead, etc. Over the years as I progressed in my learning and playing however, I came to realize that there is a lot more to guitar than just being the fastest and most technically inclined.

Let's back up a little bit, though. I grew up with a HEAVY leaning towards blues based rock n' roll from an early age. I was inundated with Motown, soul, 50's rock n' roll, etc. Stuff like James Brown, Elvis Presley, The Jackson Five, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, etc. As I started to get a bit older though I became starstruck by the likes of bands like AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, etc.

Those are the bands I started listening to ALL the time. The blues had essentially become ingrained in the very core and every fiber of my ever living being. When I finally picked up guitar at the age of 16 that was the kind of music I primarily leaned towards even though I had the desire to become some world renowned guitar virtuoso. All of the songs I was learning were based in the blues in some way or another, whether they were classic rock, punk, metal, or any other genre.

That said, that's not to say I didn't learn to play fast at all. After a few years I learned quite a few hot licks and patterns that I could execute at a respectable speed. Got me noticed by quite a few of my peers around the area. Some of it was positive, some not so much. That's a whole other story, though. That said, they were primarily in the style that I had come to love over the course of my entire life.

As I got older I got a bit bored of listening to the same bands over and over again. I decided to venture outside my box a little bit and discovered a handful of newer bands that were actually to my like, such as: The Black Keys, The White Stripes/Jack White, Rival Sons, etc. These bands over time also began to have a noticeable impact on my style of playing. It was still the blues, but just a different way of playing it.

What I began to notice though was one thing these bands had in common: simplicity. Some of the sounds they made might seem wild and out there, but the technique and playing itself was rather simplistic. It was a million miles a second like the guitar wizards I mentioned earlier, but it was still mind blowing. It wasn't because of how much technique they had down or how much speed they had, but because of the way they could take something so simple and make it sound so unchained and expressive; unlike anything I'd ever heard before.

These guitar players would make a straightforward riff or lick that might have been boring before come sparkling with new life in the kinds of layers of sound they added onto it either through amplifiers, pedals, modifications on the actual guitars, or some other method. It made me realize that there was a whole side to this instrument I'd spent the entirety of my adult life learning that I had never fathomed before. It was something I could latch onto as firmly as a clamp.

Getting back to the present, I've learned as a player that it is more about nuance, expression, and engaging your listeners rather than trying to learn every last musical technique and bit of theory that ever existed. As long as you have been honest in your playing, entertained your audience, and left them something worth remembering then you have done your job as a musician. You can learn all the technical stuff and become super robot fast if you want if that's really your thing, but it isn't necessary.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #126

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Steady As She Goes, by The Raconteurs

This is the big song Jack White's late 2000's side band were best known for. Honestly it sounds a lot more pop punk than a lot of the other stuff I've heard out of them, so I'm kind of wondering what made them choose to go in this direction for the song. Then again, when The White Stripes put out Seven Nation Army that sounded drastically different from the vast majority of the other stuff in their catalog as well. Maybe they just wanted airplay?

2. Love Potion No. 9, by The Searchers

This is another one of the songs I first remember hearing on the radio a lot when I was a really little kid. My mom used to play nothing but the oldies station back then (this was the early 90's, so oldies was 50's and 60's stuff) and stuff like this came over the airwaves and into my ears pretty often. I always found the melody rather entrancing. In more recent years though, I've come to realize that the lyrics sound like they were written about doing drugs.

3. This is a Call, by The Foo Fighters

The first track of the first Foo Fighters album. This has always been one of my favorite songs that they ever did because it is full of balls to the wall guitar sound and charges you with energy that makes you want to get up and accomplish the big thing that you want to accomplish. Dave Grohl definitely wasn't messing around when it came to recording his debut album outside of Nirvana and it shows right from the get-go.

4. Minority, by Green Day

In my opinion this is the single most under rated song Green Day has ever put out. The melody is so catchy and memorable that it never lets you go. Ever since I first heard it years ago I've hummed it a lot to myself even though I forgot the name of the band and artist until only a couple years back. It's loud, has a big social justice message, and gets you moshing around until the last note fades from your speakers.

5. Dance the Night Away, by Van Halen

Van Halen in my opinion will always be the kings of pop rock. They have the crunchy catchy riffs, the vocal harmonies, the swagger, and honestly one of the single greatest guitar players to ever bless our ears with his chops. This tune is less on the hard rocking side, but it is still chocked full of energy, but knows where to lay off a bit and let you feel like there is something actually there to dance the night away to. A classic for a reason.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

White Stripes Release First Performance Recording for 20th Anniversary

Despite the fact that they have been broken up for six years now, The White Stripes (or rather Jack White) just celebrated their 20th anniversary by releasing a high quality recording of the very first performance they ever did via Third Man Records (White's personal label that he runs), which was at an open mic night at the now closed Gold Dollar Detroit in 1997.

The release is titled: The First Show: Live on Bastille Day. It features only three songs (which makes sense, seeing as they were playing an open mic slot rather than a full on show), two of which would make the cut on the band's 1999 debut album The White Stripes (full track list below).

Personally I feel this a really cool time capsule to be able to peer into. This is The White Stripes at the genesis of their existence. For one thing, it was interesting to hear St. James Infirmary Blues played on guitar rather than piano. This is by far nowhere near the best performance they ever put on, but you can hear the raw talent and potential in just the three songs they played. They might have been rough around the edges, but you can easily tell that with a bit of time, hard work, and determination they would become the dominating force in rock n' roll that they eventually became.

The First Show: Live on Bastille Day, by The White Stripes track list:

1. St. James Infirmary Blues
2. Jimmy the Exploder
3. Love Potion No. 9

You can listen to the full thing on Spotify here:

Friday, July 14, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Van Halen II, by Van Halen

In 1978 the world of rock n' roll and heavy metal were forever changed when out of nowhere a band from Pasadena burst onto the scene with some of the most otherworldly guitar work anyone had ever heard. This little band was Van Halen. With the release of their debut Van Halen, the band that was quickly taking the world by storm needed a solid sophomore release and fast. The result came the following year when they released yet another solid classic: Van Halen II.

Van Halen II is pretty much just a continuation of their previous album's pop rock meets crunchy riffs and lightspeed melodic guitar solos from Eddie Van Halen. However, that is exactly what makes the album work. At the time it was still fresh and what the fans were wanting more of. To this day it still holds up with singles like Beautiful Girls, Dance the Night Away, You're No Good, and the flamenco instrumental masterpiece Spanish Fly.

Beautiful Girls has to be one of my all time favorite Van Halen tunes of all time. It has everything a good Van Halen song needs: the cocky swagger of vocalist David Lee Roth, the sexy guitar work of Eddie, the sunshine backing vocal harmonies of Michael Anthony, and the in your face drum styling of Alex Van Halen. It's a steady rolling tune that makes you feel like you're strutting down a beach in Cali on a sunny day with not a care in the world while enjoying the sights of all the gorgeous women lounging around.

Spanish Fly is in my opinion one of Eddie's most underrated compositions. If you were to make the classic Eruption into an acoustic piece, but with a flamenco edge you'd have Spanish Fly. The way he makes two hand tapping work on an unplugged instrument is unreal. To me, this is more impressive than Eruption for that reason. There is so much intricate finger work at play here that you won't really catch it all unless you really sit down and listen closely a few times.

Van Halen II in my opinion definitely deserves to be put in the pantheon of classic Van Halen albums. It has awesome track after awesome track and holds up just as well as any of the early albums that put them in the spotlight. There is a lot to enjoy here, whether you are a casual fan or a guitar player looking to learn from one of the great masters of the six string. It will help you rock out and put a smile right back on your face for certain.

Van Halen II, by Van Halen receives 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Track Listing:

1. You're No Good
2. Dance the Night Away
3. Somebody Get Me a Doctor
4. Bottoms Up!
5. Outta Love Again
6. Light Up the Sky
7. Spanish Fly
8. D.O.A.
9. Women in Love
10. Beautiful Girls

Buy the album on Amazon:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Foo Fighters Premiere Sixth New Song: "Arrows"

At this point I really think Dave Grohl is going to play the upcoming Foo Fighters record Concrete and Gold in its entirety long before it even comes out on September 15th. This time they have premiered a song called Arrows.

The performance was filmed in Acropolis for a TV show called Landmarks Live in Concert, hosted by Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. It also featured Grohl's daughter joining the band once again to perform the Queen hit We Will Rock You.

Arrows definitely has a 90's vibe to it. I mean, I know that the Foo Fighters got started mid-90's, but their sound has evolved a great deal since those early days. I kind of feel like this is a bit of a throwback in some ways to the grungy sounds of the mid-90's in terms of guitar and vocal melody. It fits in quite well with the rest of the band's set.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie: "Life Outside of Music Had No Meaning"

Before re-entering the fold of Fleetwood Mac after a 16 year absence, keyboardist Christine McVie says the years spent alone in retirement sent her into a dark place until she sought the aid of a psychiatric professional.

McVie had left the band in 1998 before making a full time return in 2014 after a handful of guest appearances. Drummer Mick Fleetwood incidentally suggested a meeting to her right before she went to go visit him herself. In a recent interview with Jam, McVie discusses the whole situation, saying:

“I think in my mind I was playing the role of the retired rich lady in the country, baking cookies, raising my two dogs and driving my Range Rover. That kind of world ended up being inconsequential in the end – just nothing. It didn’t have any meaning at all, which slowly led to a bit of a dark place for me. I became very isolated.

I went to a great psychiatrist who got rid of my fear of flying, and made me buy a ticket to Maui to visit Mick. But I didn’t even have to do that because Mick phoned me. This is where serendipity comes in. “He said, ‘I’m coming to England, Chris – are you going to be there?’ I said, ‘Yes, I am. Where else would I be?’ And he says, ‘Wait for me, and we can both fly back together.’ So that’s what happened. I ended up playing in his little blues band in Maui and I got the bug.”

I know a lot of people often think that rock stars come back from retirement because they have run out of or just want more money. In McVie's case however, I really feel that her need to perform and write with Fleetwood Mac again was a genuine personal need. I am glad that she finally got back with and recompleted such an iconic band. It's a shame they're retiring as a group soon, but I'm sure she will still keep busy.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #125

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Grinnin' in Your Face, by Son House

This tune is a Capella, but it has more soul and passion to it than most songs with instruments these days. In this song the legendary blues man who taught Robert Johnson sings of how one must be careful whom they trust, not worry about how they live, and how few true friends there are out there because no matter what you do people are going to smile to your face but stab you in the back when you aren't looking. You can hear the experience and honesty dripping from his voice, for sure.

2. Howlin' for You, by The Black Keys

This song often gets played and the melody chanted and stomped along to at sporting events. I guess I can kind of understand that given that it does have a pretty big, beefy, memorable riff. Even though I'm not a big sports ball fan, I can still get on board with blasting it at top volume as well because all that aside, it rocks. It's definitely one of the best songs that The Black Keys have come up with since they went the more highly produced commercial rock route.

3. Break-in City (Storm the Gate), by Tenacious D

Even though Tenacious D is not meant to be taken seriously by any stretch of the imagination, I still can't help but rock out whenever this tune comes on. It has such an 80's non-hair metal vibe to it that I head bang right along. The guitar work is tasty as hell and it showcases the fact that Jack Black does actually have some legitimate vocal talent even though he uses it for comedic purposes. Definitely one of the D's best songs if you ask me.

4. Ted the Mechanic, by Deep Purple

Even though there is only a handful of songs post-Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple that I'm a big fan of, this one is definitely among them. It shows off that even though the band had just gone through a huge transition and were getting older they could still shake a groove. Steve Morse proves that he is more than capable of handling axe duties and filling the shoes of his predecessor and then some. If you're looking for something with a funky edge to it, look no further.

5. I Love Rock and Roll, by Joan Jett

Who doesn't know and love this song? You can't put on a classic rock station for more than 20 or 30 minutes without hearing it at least once. This is one of those songs that you can tell was meant to fill up and excite a huge arena of people. It just has that gargantuan presence to it. You can feel the unbridled wild passion of Jett pounding away at her guitar and singing her lady balls off into the mic. It is definitely a rock anthem for a reason.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Beastie Boys "Sabotage" Video Gets Big Bird Treatment

As many of you are all aware, the internet is full of great number of silly things. What I have in store for you all today is certainly no exception. A fan of the Beastie Boys who goes by the alias Mylo the Cat has created a tribute to their music video for the classic hit Sabotage by giving it a shot for shot remake featuring beloved Sesame Street character Big Bird.

The footage is taken from the 1985 film Follow That Bird in order to redo the Spike Jonze directed classic. Big Bird is being looked for by a social worker as well as all the rest of his Sesame Street pals after having been kidnapped and taken all over the country. It seems there was all of the right footage from the film to piece together a remake of the Sabotage video.

Quite frankly, I think it's awesome. I've never been that huge into the Beastie Boys myself, save a few songs but I think it's really something else when someone can get this creative and make something that is not only amusing, but actually in some ways impressive. Mylo has also done muppet mash-ups of Beastie Boys’ So What’cha Want along with Warren G.’s Regulate and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony‘s Tha Crossroads.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Attack & Release, by The Black Keys

By the year 2008 The Black Keys had put out four moderately successful albums, all of which they had made by themselves in their basement with no professional outside help at all. Now that the band was picking up traction and starting to evolve in their sound a bit however, they got picked up by V2 Records and were brought into an actual studio for the first time with famed producer Danger Mouse at the helm to write and record the album Attack & Release. This would be the start of a musical partnership that has taken The Black Keys through all their best known albums up to today.

Attack & Release showed what The Black Keys could do when given a studio and a budget to make their music. Where the music no longer had a raw, bluesy, punchy feel, it now had a more refined produced sound. While the band had always had a bit of a psychedelic tinge to some of their previous music, this is the album where they started to delve further into it. It helps that now the music had more than just guitar, vocals, and drums. Now there was bass and keys (played by Danger Mouse) among other guest musicians on certain instruments. Some of the best known tunes from this album are ones like I Got Mine and Strange Times.

I Got Mine is sort of a middle of the road transitionary piece in my opinion. You can still hear that punchy bluesy overtone that made the Black Keys famous to begin with, but you can also tell that this time there was some more studio craftsmanship going on. The guitar sounds a lot more crisp and defined and there is bass to add a bottom layer. It has a solid groove to it like the old stuff, though you can also hear Dan Auerbach starting to transition from his old deep soulful vocal style to the more falsetto pop rock style that most folks associate with him.

Psychotic Girl has to be one of my favorite newer Black Keys songs. It's primarily played on banjo and bass with drum backing, but doesn't sound jangly and country-esque. It has more of a foreboding psychedelic vibe to it, which I think suits the lyrical content about a crazy girlfriend trying to do you harm. You wouldn't think such a thing could be done with a banjo, but it works out beautifully. One of my favorite aspects of the song though are the subtle touches of piano sprinkled throughout certain parts of the song to make it sound more mysterious.

Overall this is nowhere near my favorite Black Keys album and it does mark the end of my favorite era of the band, but that by no means makes it any less of a solid album. You're not going to get the raw, untamed straight-up blues sound here but what you will get is some more refined psychedelic rock in the style of Pink Floyd meets The Beatles meets maybe one or two others. It's good for if you want some music that will open your mind a bit and make you jump down an aural rabbit hole.

Attack & Release, by The Black Keys receives 3.2 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. All You Ever Wanted
2. I Got Mine
3. Strange Times
4. Psychotic Girl
5. Lies
6. Remember When (Side A)
7. Remember When (Side B)
8. Same Old Thing
9. So He Won't Break
10. Oceans and Streams
11. Things Ain't Like They Used to Be

Buy the album on Amazon:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Foo Fighters Premiere New Song "Dirty Water" Live in Paris

Dave Grohl lead band Foo Fighters don't seem to be shy about showing off the material on their upcoming album Concrete and Gold (which will be out on September 15th). At a recent concert in Paris, they premiered another new track from the album, Dirty Water (the fifth song they have premiered from the album so far).

Dirty Water has a pretty solid Foo Fighters vibe to it. It's an ear pleasing blend of speaker punching riffs, melody, rawness, and has one hell of a build-up. It's kind of hard to describe it as any one particular thing because it sounds as rough and loud as any hard rock song of today would, but at the same time you can hear melody coming through in a very pronounced way.

I kind of get the idea of what Grohl was saying recently when he said he wanted to make this record sound like it was Motorhead doing their own version of The Beatles classic Sergent Pepper album. I really do hear that in this song. I'm definitely stoked to hear what the whole rest of the album will be like if it's anything like what we've heard here.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ace Frehley Reveals Further Details of Gene Simmons Collab

It was recently made public that former Kiss lead guitarist Ace Frehley had his former band mate founding bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons collaborate with him on two songs for his upcoming solo record. This is the first time they have written together since 1998's Kiss release Psycho Circus. Simmons made the announcement, but now Frehley has weighed in with further details.

In a recent interview with Eddie Trunk, Frehley describes how it all went down, saying:

“I just shot him an e-mail and said, ‘C’mon, let’s write some songs together for my new record. Next thing you know, he’s down here [at my house in Rancho Santa Fe, California] and within three hours we had written two songs together, which was, like, a record, for me and him. We ate in the backyard while I was watering my palm trees. [Laughs] He was going to [my fiancĂ©e] Rachel, ‘This is something new I’ve never seen before.’ He’s eating a sandwich and I’m watering a palm tree in my backyard. But it was a lot of fun.

Once the dining and gardening was done, we just started jamming. We initially each picked up an acoustic guitar. I don’t remember who came up with the beginning of the song. One guy plays one thing and then I play another thing. I think Gene actually came up with more ideas than I did and I just kind of complemented them. And then I started writing lyrics for a song title, which I don’t wanna give away yet. And then we kind of took a break and then he started playing this bass line and said, ‘Ace, play these three chords against it,’ and within thirty minutes we had a second song. I was really pleased, and so was he.”

To me it sounds like Simmons and Frehley definitely had some fun working together again for the first time in almost two decades. I doubt there will be an official Kiss reunion any time in the foreseeable future (you saw how it went the last time they tried that), but at least the two of them seem to have mended their friendship enough to at least jam together and hang out. I'm stoked to hear what the two of them came up with.

Monday, July 3, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #124

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Snow (Hey Oh), by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Can't go wrong with some funky jams from the Chili Peppers. This song got overplayed a LOT in 2006 and 2007, but I can live with it because it's still great to begin with. I remember hearing it on the local alternative station ALL the time during that summer while working in a cooler. Kind of fitting, right? That said, now that it's had a decade to cool off some it's ok to listen to again. I would for certain consider it a modern/mid-2000's classic.

2. Roll Over DJ, by Jet

I always thought that this was one of Jet's best tunes, but I never hear anyone talk about it or hear it on the radio at all. It's a shame because it has some great riffs that will hook their way right into your brain and not let go. Plus, I like the message it has about EDM DJ's not being real musicians and not having anything to actually say with their music because they really don't. They just steal from other artists so they can push a play button and still get chicks. Maybe that is just me being judgmental, but that's how I feel.

3. Ogre Battle, by Queen

This is hands down the absolute greatest song Queen ever made. "But Josh, what about Bohemian Rhapsody?" Overplayed and nothing compared to the melodic loud heavy metal awesomeness of this song. This is back when Queen was a band that actually had some serious balls to their music. Their popular stuff is great too, but these guys could go toe to toe with even the best of modern metal bands. The harmonies, riffs, melodies, rhythms, etc. come together to make something AMAZING.

4. Whole Lotta Rosie, by AC/DC

Queen isn't the only band who can rock a song about fat bottom girls making the rocking world go 'round. This tune will ALWAYS get a joint going no matter how dead it is. It's hard, crunchy, and fast. It's also the highlight of any AC/DC show because they bring out a HUMONGOUS blow up doll of the character Rosie from this song. It's a great tune to fist pump and shout "Angus!" along with for certain and will get your blood pumping.

5. Moby Dick, by Led Zeppelin

Need more drums in your life? Have the best drum solo ever put to tape. Jon Bonham is considered to be the greatest drummer to ever live by countless musicians and fans spanning multiple continents and generations. Even though this is only five minutes, it changed the way people approach the drum kit for years to come. Everyone from that point forward aspired to be the next Jon Bonham and to be able to do things the way he did.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Op Ed Piece: Is Selling Out Really a Bad Thing?

To many people, one of the worst things a musical artist can ever do is sell out. This is usually where an artist will do something with their music just for the money, like for instance be used in a commercial or be put on mainstream radio. Lately however, I've been wondering if stuff like that is really all that bad.

In an age where it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to make it big as a musician, is it really such a bad thing for an artist to take an opportunity to get their name and music out to the masses? For one thing, it costs money to make music. There is just no way around it. Instruments, gear, studio time, promotion, etc. isn't free. Any of that that is is probably not going to be all that great and won't help you all that much in the long run. You can't keep the lights on and doing what you love on artistic integrity.

That being said, why is it considered artistic integrity when you pass up an opportunity to profit off of your passion and get your name more recognition? Is it somehow cooler and more honest to stay in a crappy basement and barely get by, only playing the pitiful local stuff in your area? The way I see it, you're only shooting yourself in the foot by doing that. You're stunting your growth as an artist and preventing yourself from having more opportunities in other areas of life as well. In that sense, keeping yourself in a box like that is the opposite of artistic integrity because you're just doing the same thing over and over again and not evolving.

I'm in an up and coming band myself as many of you may know. I have absolutely no qualms with anything that might come our way that would make us money and/or give us the opportunity to get our name further out there because we want to have a larger audience and we do want to get to a point where we're making a living out of this. I would LOVE if some fat cat corporate person came knocking on our door with a huge check and an offer to put one of our songs in their advertising campaign (as long as it wasn't for anything illegal/immoral). We would be able to gain exposure and have a bit more cushion in our living situations and collective artistry. We could grow as artists due to the opportunities afforded to us by such a thing.

The only point where I would consider selling out a bad thing is when you change your music in such a way that you're only making that way in order to make more money and have a wider commercial appeal. It's one thing to change your sound because that is the organic direction you're going in. It's another if you're just doing it to put more zeroes on the left side of the decimal point in your bank account. At that point you have lost sight of what being a musician is all about in the first place.

All in all, as long as the music you make comes from the heart and is honest in every fiber of its being then as far as I'm concerned you should sell out BIG TIME. Take every good opportunity you can get if its offered. It's tough out there these days and if you can catch a break then don't let some hipster tell you you're wrong or bad for accepting it. Make all the money and get all the exposure you can. There is nothing wrong with it.