Thursday, October 20, 2011

ramble on: oct 19 -- 2001 edition

Taking quite the departure from my usual ways, I'm home doing homework instead of going out this Wednesday night. (And by doing homework, I of course mean listening to any random song I can think of on Grooveshark, looking up the lyrics of said song, and then YouTubing the video as my statistics binder lays open beside me on my bed.) I had a couple songs on my mind that i wanted to ramble about tonight, and when i realized that both songs were released the same year, i decided to do a little investigating to find a third from that year that i could also feature. Turns out, the year i was researching, 2001, was a gold mine of amazing music. It's probably important to note that i was in middle school that year, so it may go without saying that i was a 13-year-old girl and the songs that i loved (let's be honest, i still love) aren't exactly the most bad-ass cool-kid songs to admit to liking now.

Narrowing the list down was ridiculously difficult. I made a playlist on Grooveshark, appropriately named "It's like a middle school dance up in here," where i picked 76 songs full of memories, but there was no way I could put 76 videos on this blog. So I narrowed it down to a few of my favorites to feature here. Feel free to listen to the playlist i made and take your own little stroll down memory lane. (Seriously, this is the year the "Cha Cha Slide" came out. O Town was huge. And, the song that epitomizes middle school dances: "U Got It Bad." Don't act like you're not intrigued.)  
It's so hard for me to believe that these songs came out almost ten years ago, because i can remember so clearly listening to them over and over. I love so many of the songs that were popular that year, and it's those songs that really lay the basis for a lot of my musical memories. As overly-dramatic as this may sound, 2001 just might have been the year i fell in love with music... 

The Calling-- Wherever You Will Go
 Yes, i know. Basically, The Calling is just a glorified boy-band, made slightly less boy-bandish by the fact that they play instruments. I should probably be ashamed to admit that I love them, and that i adore this song. I should probably be even more ashamed to admit that I saw them live...and the most shameful confession: I bought a shirt that I still wear occasionally. Hate if you want, but this song is so pretty, and so undeniably catchy. The video also serves as a great reminder that you should never, ever get your boyfriend/girlfriends name tattooed on your body, nor should lead singer boys wear just one earring. Alex, darling, you look like a blond pirate. Or George Michael. Put one in the other ear, or just take it out.  

Default--Wasting My Time

Default is a bit more of a legitimate admission when it comes to my musical likings of 2001. They are a real band, and "Wasting My Time" is a real rock song. And it's awesome. The music is good and the lyrics are strong. Really, who can't identify with the idea of wasting time on someone or something. It's a simple concept, and makes for an amazing song. The video is the weakest link of the song. The singer looks so angry, and I guess that's understandable. He is shrunken down to particle-size and stuck inside a terribly computer generated watch. I feel angry for him. 

Sum 41-- Fat Lip
Yeah, I own this album. I admit it. I went through a brief punk stage on my way to developing the impeccable taste in music that i have now. "Fat Lip" was one of my first anthems of rebellion and independence, and not giving a shit about the fact that i liked the kind of music that i liked, even if that was different from what everyone else was listening to. Ahh, memories. It almost makes me a little teary-eyed... 

Days of the New -- Hang On

Love Days of the New. LOVE this song. It's got such an awesome groove to it, along with the band's signature sound. The acoustic guitar is so evident, over all the rest of the instruments, and is outshined only by the vocals.   

The Verve Pipe-- Never Let You Down

I didn't reccognize this song from way back when, but when i read the lyrics, some of them kind of floored me. I love when i can listen to a song and i feel like it's about me. This song did that for me. Plus, it's actually a pretty good song.(This video is a little shaky, but the sound quality is pretty good and it was filmed in Louisville, which i thought was cool)

 Nickelback -- Too Bad

I seriously have such visceral memories of this song. When I hear it, I feel, see, and hear 2001 all over again. I remember hearing the song and seeing the video first on Fuse, and it instantly became one of my favorite Nickelback songs (which still stands today). The real memories come from a middle school dance, though. I remember what i was wearing, i remember who i was with, i remember the dj (shout out to you if you actually read this one, f*face). I can close my eyes and see that night so clearly, and go to the exact moment when this song came on. When a song can do that for you, when it's powerful enough to instantly transport you back 10 years just by hearing it, that's when you know there is something to it. This is the Nickelback that I love, the older stuff that still feels real.

Evan and Jaron -- Crazy For This Girl
Yes, this is a straight-up pop song. If you can go ten years without hearing a song and still remember every word, that's a sign. It is so super cheesy, but I just can't help loving it. And you better believe I bought this single at the wal-marts when it first came out, and i most certainly still have it in my cd case today. What. a. dork. :)

Staind/Fred Durst -- Outside
One of the first Staind songs I loved, "Outside" is such a classic. I especially love the version in the video, with just Fred Durst, Aaron Lewis, and his guitar. It's so powerful (as is what is to be expected from Lewis) and when the two sing together, it gives you chills. It's the kind of song that makes you love music, in it's most raw and stripped down form.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Black Stone Cherry- Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea [album review]

Preface: If you are looking for a legit, straightforward album review, you're not going to find it here. This is destined from the beginning to be full of my [slightly biased] voice. It is an effort to honestly review the album as a mature and adult music blogger with actual journalistic standards, but that review is at times sandwiched between childish, irrelevant emotion.

Before you read, it is important to know the derivation of my emotions. It can be summed up pretty simply: I'm a jealous bitch. The boys of Black Stone Cherry are from around the same area that I'm from, and they started playing out at around the same time that "my" crew of musical boys did. The similarities end there, though.  BSC went on to blow up all over the freakin' globe, while my boys ended their first band, started another, and are still basically no where. Hence, every time I hear BSC on the radio or see some of my favorite bands becoming bestest friends with them, my blood pressure spikes as jealous Kelli goes all Hulk and turns green with envy.     

I am fully aware that my hatred is silly and basically senseless. It is no fault of BSC's that things happened the way they did. They were simply more focused on their goal way sooner, and much more serious in their pursuit. Maybe they did have more than a little help from certain family connections to get them to where they are now, which has been a major point of contention for me against them. But, if I have learned anything from my 23 years on this Earth (and most specifically from the great Brent Smith in the Shinedown song, "Shed Some Light") it's this: "I know now, it's not who you are, it's who you know." I can't even lie for a second and say that if the situations were reversed that I would feel badly using those connections. Getting your music heard by the right people is key to getting anywhere, and if there is an expedited way to do that, you'd be a nothing more than a fool not to take advantage of it.

So, I apologize from the beginning and ask you to please be patient when the jealous Kelli-Hulk comes out.


Hello, my name is Kelli, and I have a confession.....I bought the new Black Stone Cherry album, Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea. 
If you know me at all, then you're aware of the shame I feel as I write those words. You will also know that as I type this next sentence, each keystroke burns my fingertips like a flame and leaves my mouth with a bitter taste like I have never known: Not only did I buy the album, but.........I actually kinda like it. In order to try to overcome my shame, I feel the best remedy is to just get it all out there and explain myself. Here is my attempt at doing that.   

I don't know what led me to buy the album in the first place, when I knew full and well that the purchase would lead only intense feelings that no band other than BSC can cause me to feel. Jealousy and anger, as well as a few tears, were not just likely, they were basically inevitable. I didn't want to like it and feel happy that I purchased it- I wanted it to be terrible, something I listened to and then threw in the floor and laughed at each time my cat decided to use it as a hockey puck.  In my head I likened it to voting: If I didn't put out the effort (and $6.35 of my hard earned dollars) to buy it and give it a real chance, I had no right to complain about it or say that it was bad.  So, I printed off my emailed coupon from Roadrunner (which led to the use of a few expletives when I opened the email, because it removed the "it's too much to pay for something i don't even want to buy" excuse), made my voyage to Best Buy, bought the cd (which actually opened easily, without the fight that the plastic wrap and stickers usually put up, dammit) and stuck it in my car's cd player. I braced myself for whatever came next.

Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea begins with the first single released from the album, "White Trash Millionaire," a song that I admit (through gritted teeth as I kick myself repeatedly) I liked from the first time I heard it on the radio. It's catchy as hell and gets stuck in your head, where it plays on repeat all day. The song has a swampy, dirty southern rock groove, really accentuated by the thick guitars and the low, country growl of the vocals.     

This song emanates a new and very different side of the Edmonton, Kentucky-based band of good ol' boys, It would seem that BSC has lost their innocence somewhere on the road and turned into bad-asses (or are at least writing songs like they have). Instead of the fairly wholesome image that they have projected in the past, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea could lead a listener to believe that the once good boys are now pot-smoking, sex-having, white trash millionaires. {Disclaimer: I actually have no idea if that's true or not. Please, don't sue me for libel. I'm a poor college kid and you wouldn't get much money anyway.} The songs do lead thoughts in that direction, though. I mean, really, by singer Chris Robertson telling you he has "two Zig Zags," what do you really think he is trying to share with you? It could just be a simple, homemade cigarette, filled with plain old tobacco, you say. Well, the the song goes on to talk about how "on the couch on the front porch we're all smoking left-handed cigarettes." To the unknowing and pure of mind, such as myself, there could still be innocence in this. Until you Google the phrase, and find the truth. According to a very reliable source, (aka Urban Dictionary) "A left handed cigarette is marijuana" - There's no ambiguity in that statement. Roll that up that in your Zig Zag and smoke it. 

And I don't even want to get started on the unwholesome content of the even catchier (my legs are starting to get really tired from the repeated kicking of myself when I admit this crap) "Blame It On the Boom Boom." There's no doubt what the song is eluding to; it's obviously about the topic of doing the dirty. (First drugs, and now sex, too?! On an album by Black Stone Cherry!? My mind is about to explode.) This is not how the band's previous albums or interviews have portrayed them. It's not that I care to listen to songs about those topics, and these two songs are no exception. They are actually really, really good (ugh!) and no departure from the age-old drugs, sex, and rock n' roll mentality. It's just a little difficult dealing with the fact that the image I feel I've been fed in the past has been shattered. And maybe also because I am having a hard time accepting that the album is really fucking good...   

My favorite song on Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by far, is "Killing Floor." It's much harder and darker than their other songs.  It's got a sound that is really different from what they've put out in the past, but it has such a radio friendly modern rock quality that, if it is released as a single, will be one of their biggest hits and reach a whole new pool of listeners. It pulls away from their southern side with this straight-up rock song, proving that BSC has too much dimension and range to be plugged into just one corner of the genre. 

"Like I Roll" comes in a close second as a top song on the album, though it is a jump completely across the musical spectrum from the heavy "Killing Floor." "Like I Roll" is a slightly poppy anthem, sounding like the audible complement to the picture of someone escaping whatever demons are chasing them, driving through the desert in an old convertible with the top down, letting their problems fly away behind them into a cloud of dust. It is in this song that Robertson sings some of the most clever lines I've heard in a long time. The most striking lyric comes when the last chorus changes slightly to say, "I roll through the hills of my ole Kentucky home, back to the place where my heart belongs." It is such a simple line, yet in the context of the song it is so powerful that it's almost genius.

i found this video that someone made for "Like I Roll" and
thought it was interesting that the someone else envisioned
 the song in almost the same way i did.  

Before you think I've been completely brainwashed or that I've sold my soul to the devil, I'll  say that I don't love every song on the album. "Won't Let Go" is just a little too corny and the lyrics are just too easy, for lack of a better term.  When it says "I wonder where we'll be when we're 33" I'm instantly irritated, just like I get when it says "We'll always be together, no matter what the weather."  It's a let down when so many of the other songs have lyrics that are smart and adeptly written. "Let Me See You Shake" makes me feel the same way. Don't dumb it down for the listeners, especially after you prove that you can do better elsewhere on the album. Musically, the songs aren't bad, but just not strong enough to redeem them. 
Overall, when it comes to Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, I have to say I'm disappointed...disappointed in the fact that I actually like most of the songs. As much as I hate to admit it, this is a solid album that will probably rocket the band to new heights of fame. And honestly, they deserve it. They are some of the most genuinely nice guys that you'll ever meet. They're putting south-central Kentucky's rock scene on the map, and that can only help other bands from the area, not hurt them. Though I'll probably never be able to completely transcend my angry streak of envy when it comes to Black Stone Cherry, even as ludicrous as I know it is, an album as strong as this one forces me to recognize their talent and respect them as songwriters and musicians. At the end of the day, even I'm not too bitter and jealous to admit that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

ramble on: oct 17

chevelle-- face to the floor

Chevelle's latest release, "Face to the Floor," their first single from the new album due out in December, hits you hard as soon as the vocals kick in. A very different sound, both musically and vocally, this new taste of the band from Chicago is one of the best releases from the band in a long time. It has such a strong groove to it, while still maintaining that melodic and heavy sound that made them famous in songs like "The Red." Overall, a really good song from what I'm predicting will be a must-buy album this December.   

the pretty reckless-- make me wanna die

I really didn't think I'd like The Pretty Reckless. I've basically ignored them up until this point because I figured there was no way that this pretty little blonde actress who tried too hard to be a rockstar and wore entirely too much black eye makeup could have any legit talent. I came across the video of Taylor Momsen singing "Make Me Wanna Die" with nothing but an acoustic guitar backing her. I was shocked by the fact that the girl could actually sing. Blessed with a voice that is beautiful yet dark and raspy, with a bluesy feel to it, Momsen is a much better singer than actress. As a person she tries a bit too hard to fill out the rockstar persona that she's after, but as a vocalist she has an effortless sound that is undeniably good.

evans blue-- this time it's different

Fronted by a singer different from the one that led them to fame with their hit "Cold (But I'm still here), Evans Blue is coming back strong with a new vocalist and a new song that has the potential to be just as big. "This Time It's Different" is heavy, but highlighted by catchy lyrics that are dark yet entrancing. This song may not have the carry-over potential to bring in fans outside of the rock world as "Cold" did, but it still has serious potential and will likely continue to climb the rock charts, and deservedly so.