Gigs: Sick Puppies-Wooly’s

Last week was the first show I caught at Wooly‘s (not proud of that considering I’ve lived in the DSM area for 3 years now). I was very impressed with the venue. There is enough space for a big act but it would still probably be considered a smaller venue. Nothing wrong with that as it gets you closer to the band you came to see. There’s a full service bar with plenty of great drink and beer selections. It’s a great all-around place to see a show and they constantly have many different kinds of acts come through.

wooly's

Fatal Addiction and Devour the Day were the openers, and they performed admirably. They got the crowd moving and ready for the headliner. Once it was time for Sick Puppies to hit the stage, we found a spot roughly dead center in the floor.  They came out with one of their newer tracks. I am not 100% sure but I believe it was “Die to Save You“. Good new song, slightly reminds me of “War” which is one my favorites by this group.

Sick Puppies is a group that is mainly known for their harder stuff. Over time, the band has given us a steady offering of many types of songs. Whatever the type may be, a fast-paced fist-pounder or a slower, more heart-felt track; they have always excelled at whatever they’ve done. And their ability to get a crowd going is awesome as well. “War” was a great way to do this and I’ve posted below one of their more recent hits off their new album Connect.  It has some smart, insightful lyrics but still rocks hard. They also later played the title track from the same album but I wasn’t a fan of that one. See what you think. And don’t judge Sick Puppies on this one song if you’re not familiar with them at all. Check out the other two videos posted or their other work first as “Gunfight” took me a few listens before I got into it.

 

 

I thought Sick Puppies’ setlist did about as good as you can as far as the traditional approach of mixing in new stuff along with pleasing the crowd with the popular songs. Most of Sick Puppies’s work that I like the best is from Tri-Polar. So I was elated they played all the best singles from that album including “Odd One”, “You’re Going Down”, “Maybe” and my personal favorite “Riptide”. They also included some tracks from their debut album Dressed Up As Life, which is as underrated album in my opinion (with solid tunes such as this).

“Riptide” is a song about doing your own thing and not letting others persuade you into conforming to doing what’s “normal”. While it has a short chorus, my favorite part is the outro @2:58 with the closing statement “I remember  when it used to be easy, I remember when it wasn’t so hard.” Which I assume is a statement about all the hoops we now find ourselves jumping through in society; that we make out to be a priority but seldom turn out to be essential or fulfilling.

 

 

All three band members stage presence was entertaining. The lead singer/guitarist, Shim, was very charismatic  and got the crowd involved throughout the show. You could also purchase a special pass to meet the band after the show. It was limited to 100 people or so but it was one of those fan appreciation deals that they didn’t have to do. They also introduced this blogger to his first mosh pit during the closing act “You’re Going Down”. While it was not completely voluntary by me or my friend that accompanied me, it was a worthwhile experience that everybody should probably have at some point of their lives.

 

Sick Puppies members Mark Goodwin (drummer), Emma Anzai (bass) and Shim Moore (guitarist)

 

My final hope was that they played their epic cover of Smashing Pumpkins “Cherub Rock”. I knew it was a long shot and sadly it was not featured in their show. It takes nothing away from what a fucking great cover it is, though. It’s a much harder, aggressive take on the early 90’s classic. It starts out slow and nonchalant but picks it up quickly and the best part is after the 2nd chorus (@2:06)  where they brilliantly break-off and do another one of Pumpkins’s songs “The Everlasting Gaze”. It all culminates to my favorite cover ever. If you’re a fan of this group at all then you have to see them live, no exception. I’d say this link posted below is an indicator to the high energy level put on display.

http://grooveshark.com/#!/search/song?q=Sick+Puppies+Cherub+Rock+Cover (Select the bottom version for best audio quality)

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Quick Hitters: Long Live the 90’s Spectacle

Quick Hitters…well, not this time. I hope you have some time on your hands because the next three songs have some length to them. But believe me, when there is as much musical talent displayed throughout the entire song as three tracks have below, that is most definitely a good thing. One thing I have never prided myself in is my remarkably short attention span. I become bored rather easily. This is especially the case with music. It takes a lot of gall to release a song filled with some of your prime material that is over six minutes in length. First off, you are limiting its radio play as most popular radio stations don’t like to play songs much over 4 minutes. I suppose they either presume that all listeners will lose interest and change the station or perhaps it creates too long of a gap between advertisements. Either way those stations can fuck off. This post is a salute to the artists who, at the risk of it not being exposed to the masses, produced unique, memorable tracks that reward the listener for buying the album. I’ll never forget the first time I listened to Green Day’s Jesus of Suburbia. I’ve never heard that song played on the radio and I only saw the music video on TV once…complete travesty (highlight for me is Billie Joe’s distinct voice singing out “lost children with dirty faces today” with Mike Dirnt yelling out “Hey!”  in the background).

But today, I would like to celebrate some of the most memorable 90’s (as much as I hate to say it…uh…) EPIC songs. The first is a track by an artist you probably haven’t heard of if you were born after 1990. Their name is Ride and their song is “Leave Them All Behind” Prepare to be taken for a trip. It starts out with some keyboard and some bass almost leading you to believe it’s of the techno genre but it ends up being very grungey. That mark starts roughly @ 2:16 (see top comment @ link for excellent description). The vocals are sub-par. They take little away from what is an instrumental masterpiece.They do enough to mix it up and hit you with many different combinations of meaningful lyrics and guitar riffs. My interpretation of the lyrics is that the vocalist is describing  an unearthly experience such as departing this earth for the afterlife and not really caring about what has happened up until then. Turn your headphones up and tune out to “Leave Them All Behind”

The next track I have known about only for a short time thanks to a childhood muddled by car rides where I listened to less-than-inspirational artists. I heard from Chicago more than once that “I” was the inspiration and that Londonbeat has been “thinking about me” when I should have been more exposed to groups like My Bloody Valentine. Let’s take a peak at their closing track “Soon” from their album Loveless. Little description is needed, the quality of the song speaks for itself. Especially Kevin Shields’s gloomy vocals and the kick-in of the guitars, they’re what really make this song (@3:04). My Bloody Valentine is a mysterious group. We were not exposed to all that much and then they disappeared completely it seemed. It was Siruis XMU that re-acquainted me with this artist and the very reassuring fact that they are releasing new material! I still have high hopes for this group and think that their best is yet to come. Time will tell but for now, give “Soon” a try and leave your comments on this beautiful, elongated for the sake of their listeners, work of art.

The last song I will post is by Smashing Pumpkins. They seem to be my crutch when it comes to signifying momentous works of art. The work they produced though their 1st-3rd albums still leaves me speechless…it’s that remarkable. I wanted to use “Thru The Eyes of Ruby,” however, I have already posted a track from Mellon Collie and this appears to be a good opportunity to share what is and will always be my favorite Smashing Pumpkins song “Hummer.” The intro is misleading; it’s a scrambled mess that, while intriguing in itself, does not exemplify the clarity that is achieved for the duration of the song. The first episode of this occurs @ 1:44. Notice a theme between all three songs I’ve posted? They all have long running times, yet by comparison, there are not a whole lot of lyrics. That is because all three artists have the capability to say more than most of us ever could with some simple yet thoughtful lyrics mixed in with powerful instrumentals.  The best part of an already brilliant song starts @3:12 and goes on through the 4:00 minute mark of “Hummer.” It doesn’t drop a beat when the guitars kick right back in @4:04 and rehash the grass roots of this masterful track.  After that, it’s mostly low-key the rest of the way. Still, one cannot downplay the effect that listening to “Hummer” will have on your whole perspective of things…literally (on the link, sit through the ad…it’s worth the excellent sound quality of this player)

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5690210/smashing_pumpkins_hummer_1993/

So young…even they may not have known at that time how much influence they would ultimately have on the alt rock/music scene for years to come

Artist Profile: Tame Impala

Welcome back, you may be asking yourself (although you’re more than likely not), what is the objective of a artist profile? There’s several…I’ll write these in hopes that you discover a new artist that you come to deeply admire and follow closely after hearing some select songs. –OR–…you may have already heard of them. In fact, you knew about them before they were semi-famous! Congratulations, if that is the case, my aim is to provide you with my take on them, introduce you to songs by them you may not be familiar with, and of course open the floor to discussion on the band being reviewed.

I’ll do my best not to make all of these artists profiles posts love-fests where I gush on and on about how all these bands and songs have changed me forever. No, I will try to add in some more critical reviews of artists that I believe are getting too much hype.  But I’m not going to throw too many stones as I have little musical experience myself. I have no idea the amount of work that goes into just learning to play an instrument well much less write an entire song. We’ll go ahead and assume it is a lot, not an insurmountable amount, but still probably a lot.

Onto Tame Impala. Some bands have a break-in period with me where I need multiple listens of a few different songs before I become invested in them. Not Tame, was all about them as soon as I heard “Elephant.” This psychedelic group from Australia sounds very Zeppelin-like (not a huge Zeppelin fan, myself, interestingly enough) but they also pour on the synths to produce a classic rock yet, trance like sound. I wouldn’t think those two would go together very well but in this case, I am dead wrong. We’ll start ‘er off with “Elephant,” the track on Lonerism that has received the most airplay. It starts of like a something you’d hear off of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album from 1970. After only a few verses, the meat and potatoes of the songs kicks in and you experience the trance and hypno qualities of the song. Eventually, the more electronic instruments come in and merges the more classic sound with something almost MGMT-like for a spectacular finale (starts at 2:18). Enjoy!

It only gets better, my friends. I love bands that don’t follow the basic hit song composition of 2 sets of verse-bridge-chorus followed by a middle 8 and then one final rendition of a chorus and an outro. Tame Impala does that approximately 0% of the time and it’s so refreshing. “Endors Toi” is up next. A song that is almost entirely an intro, and a great one at that. When the lyrics finally arrive, they’re gone again before you know it. And I, for one, have already been blown away by everything else that has happened up until that point. This really makes me relish what little singing occurs in this song. Give her a whirl and please leave me your opinion on this quirky little number.

The final song I will post of Tame Impala is a goodie off of their last album, InnerSpeaker. “Solitude is Bliss” Can’t say I agree with them but the terrific lyrics and beats make a pretty good case. I interpret the meaning of this song as…”we’re tame impala, you’ll never be as cool/hipster as us, we’re fine with just chilling by lonesome, deal with it.” I mean, just look at the way one of the members wears his jacket in the picture at the top of the page. Nobody who gave even the tiniest fuck about what others thought about him would wear his jacket like that. Personally, I think it’s a rather moronic way to wear a jacket but does he care, not one iota. Ok, I need to stop talking. Enjoy “Solitude is Bliss”