Friday, July 31, 2015

Deep Tracks: Boys Don’t Cry and You Gave Your Love To Me Softly From The Huntingtons and Retarded Split

It’s time for a new series of posts, and one that I have been kicking around for a while now. Today I open up the vaults for you humanoids out there that have given up on finding new and old music alike. We are going back to 2003! In 2003, The Huntingtons and Retarded put out a split record with 12 songs and about 30 minutes of punk rock glory.

If you don’t know either band, shame on you! If you do know these bands, then you’re probably Jeremy Allison from Santa Monica, California. But in case you’re not, I’m here to discuss in brief two tracks off of this otherwise forgotten record. If you’re serious about collecting records, however, you can find this CD on Amazon for $63 HERE. I wouldn’t pay that much, but that’s simply because I had the CD in my collection and sold it in 2009 to fund my trip home from Moscow, Idaho aka HELL.

Getting to the tracks at hand, you’ll denote the The Huntingtons put on quite the Ramones-esque punk rock element, but Retarded follows suit. The second band on this split has a dual vocal element, and it shines on their cover track, which is why you may want to pick up this record in the first place. If you’ve heard me talk about The Huntingtons before here, then you already know that I love them, and find their cover of “Boys Don’t Cry” quite good. Not quite as good as the B-side from The Get Up Kids, but really good none the less. They go with a guitar heavy sound here, and they do so very well, without putting in trumpets, or piano, or keyboard that I’ve heard with many Cure covers that others do.

Heading to the second cover track, you’re going to absolutely fall in love with Retarded’s version of “You Gave Your Love To Me Softly”. This is a track made famous by Weezer from the “Angus” soundtrack. I have been waxing poetic about that record for years, so it’s no doubt something that is fresh on the mind of readers, and anyone that has followed my blogging path for some time. Retarded’s no nonsense approach to the cover with female vocals, and keyboard heavy interlude is downright one of the best covers of a Weezer track. They should’ve used that for the Honda commercial, just saying.

So here’s the deal. You can pick up this record at the inflated price I mentioned above, or you could find it used in stores. The artwork is above, so go search it out. Or, you could get the DOWNLOAD here, and get the two tracks of outstanding glory. Released in 2003 in limited runs, The Huntingtons x Retarded split “The Soothing Sounds of…” is one of the prime examples of how great underground punk is, was, and will always be. So go search these out! Or don’t, what do I care? I just write this blog.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hot Rod Circuit Made Me Fall In Love With Cover Art With Sorry About Tomorrow in 2002

Let’s rewind time and look at the past again. I was jumping out of high school and still had a few friends. That’s when Hot Rod Circuit put out a record called “Sorry About Tomorrow”, and it was on Vagrant Records. The record label was putting out some amazing music. They were the guys that put out The Get Up Kids, for instance. Anyways, this record hit me hard, especially the cover art. At the time, as I admit now, I loved this girl that kind of looked like the woman on the cover. The black hair, the pale skin, the whole nine yards. So it was natural that I picked up the vinyl of this record to frame and put up on my wall. The angst was high, especially when my friend ended up dating and eventually marrying that girl.

But there was another chance, an amazing dancer, and well she never told me she liked me, and therefore the soundtrack of “Sorry About Tomorrow” became a record that is not too unlike the way Rob laments through “High Fidelity”. Fast forward to 2015 and here I am waxing poetic about this record, because it’s a solid recording with a lot to offer through 34 minutes and 11 songs of ups and downs. From “The Pharmacist” to the stellar song “Radiation Suit”, the band mixes the best of punk, rock, and indie into a mash up of melody. It’s a melodic record that really points fingers at bands like Saves The Day, without copying them directly.

For me, this record represents an evolution of musical elements. I asked my sister to buy this for me as a graduation present, since she really wanted to buy me something. She got me this one and Bear vs. Shark’s debut. She didn’t have to buy me anything, mind you, but she really wanted to and Tower Records was closing down. So she got me these two records, and they both have their moments.

However, it’s the tremendous emotional connection that I have with “Sorry About Tomorrow” that keeps me coming back, even on this humid night in Indianapolis. Vagrant Records was putting out so many good records back then, it makes me wonder why the industry is so diluted right now. Whatever the case is, Hot Rod Circuit really put on an amazing performance with this one, and I kick myself for missing them when they played the Troubadour with The Get Up Kids and others.

Stand out tracks, for those that are downloading, consider “At Nature’s Mercy”, “Radiation Suit”, “The Pharmacist”, “Let’s Go Home”, “Get What You Get”, and “The Night They Blew Up The Moon”, as prime examples of what Hot Rod Circuit was putting down in a crowded indie and emo landscape back in 2002. Pick up “Sorry About Tomorrow” here, if you still buy records, or don’t, it doesn’t matter, does it? Oh, and for the record, no hard feelings (as if I should or am entitled to them) to my former friend. I kind of miss the guy, but I'm a lousy friend as well. I'm sure you're out there man, have fun, congrats on the kid!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fit For A King Paints A Beautiful Picture With Slave To Nothing

I’m slow to the grind sometimes. There are moments in my life in which I don’t want to write any longer. Then inspiration strikes and I jump at the chance to speak up. Music is that way for me, there are so many tracks, so many albums that I love, and while I listen to a LOT of music, I tend to forget to review it all. That’s what happened with the latest from Fit For A King. They released “Slave To Nothing” in 2014, and I haven’t reviewed it for this site yet. So here is my take on this incredible mix of hardcore, metal, and melody.

From the beginning of the album, you are messed with. The band doesn’t hit you with the chugging riffs and hardcore elements that made some of their previous songs so heavy. Instead, they pull you throw an emotional connection not too unlike the openings that made Poison The Well industry darlings long ago. “Kill The Pain” does just that, it brings you into the mix of soft, heavy, and break downs that make the genre of heavy music so eclectic. If you’re not convinced, just listen to the way the percussion breaks through the noise of screaming and drops you through a kaleidoscope of controlled chaos. The drumming on this record is second to none, and it’s a credit to the band’s cohesive metallic display.

That’s not to say the rest isn’t good, because you are going to find yourself entrenched in heavy music, from the guitar work reminiscent of Norma Jean or even some of the best Deftones tracks, “Slave To Nothing” doesn’t hold back on any track. Everything seems very deliberate, and pulls your heart to listen to the singing, the lyrics, and the empathy found in the human condition. “Young and Undeserving” is a showcase of this earnest reflection. The rest of the track just keeps on painting pictures of a spiritual nature, with “Break Away”, “Forever Unbroken”, “Cleanse My Soul”, so much more pummel, enlighten, and showcase the best of what Fit For A King does so well.

All in all, “Slave To Nothing” is a tremendous undertaking of hardcore, metal, and melody. There’s sung parts that bring you into a sense of reflection, then answers to questions that are nothing short of thunderous. It’s like reading the book of Job, because it’s truly a mix of ups, downs, and incredible passion.

This is a prime example of why I love heavy music to this day, even if I’m old. Fit For A King holds nothing back on “Slave to Nothing”, pick it up HERE, you won’t regret it.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Figures of Light R U Ready? Delights In Shifting Genres On The Fly

I’ve reviewed a lot of Figures of Light records in the past, so when this came across my desk I thought I knew what was going to be heard. Then the first track played and it surprised me. Figures of Light once again break the mold and create a lavish display of musical hop scotch. Not satisfied with being put into one genre, the band pulls together influences across EDM, indie, garage, surf, and punk to create a lavish display of music.

On “Good News At Last (Mike’s Mix)” you are given one of the best songs ever put to tape from the band. It’s this type of quality that made bands like Minus The Bear’s “Highly Refined Pirates” so many recommendations. Figures of Light’s second track on this release is by far my favorite. It pieces together everything I could want from a song, melting together my love for instrumentals, and the rock concepts that made me such a big Starflyer59 fan upon first hearing. This track is golden, on a record that has several stand out moments.

The band doesn’t stray from crafting together different connections though, as they quickly throw you for a loop with a garage, surf, retro style mix on “Can’t Let It Go”, before landing squarely on a new edge with “Dragstrip (Nathan’s Mix)”. It’s logical, heavy, and works so well within the band’s segments. You flow through the record and eventually hit “Sunday Meditation” which is just that, a flowing song of simplicity, and it closes out a record that touches on the best of what Figures of Light does.

“R U Ready” is a record that is not defined by one style, genre, or musical concept. There’s a spatial element to it, there’s points of contention with that solve themselves through the layers of music, and then there’s tranquility to calm your nerves at the end. All in all, this is one of the best records that Figures of Light has put out. I recommend it highly.


Figures of Light - R U Ready? from Figures of Light Archive on Vimeo.

This is a killer new cut from Figures of Light - a bit of trance and dub mixed together - dig those images! Figures of Light was an American music band founded in 1970, which disbanded in 2015. This channel features some of their videos as a permanent archive. Check out our website at http://www.figuresoflight.com

Saturday, July 4, 2015

XT Dream Drops Serious Knowledge on Future’s Future

Word to the wise, don’t blast your speakers too loud, because you’ll fly into the speaker’s ala “Back to the Future”. I learned the hard way, but that’s not here nor there. XT Dream comes through with his latest release entitled “Future’s Future”. I’m always up to listen to new hip hop, rock, or just about any genre, and this caught off guard a little. I’ve been drenched in a lot of metal lately, with a lot of artists hitting me with the same old chugga, chugga, roar, so when I started to listen to “Future’s Future”, I was glad to finally get out of the old and into something new.

XT Dream pulls you through a variety of moods through the beats that are layered into an ethereal transmission. His words are tied together with a spiritual message, but not a preaching message. It’s more of a positive tutelage, which focuses on the positive rather than the bravado that you get from other hip hop artists. The goal here is prominently displayed, with words that uplift rather than just point at the problems of the world, or about how amazing the lyricist is compared to others. There’s a natural story telling that comes through here. Fans of Abilities and Eyedea will immediately gravitate to the vocal style that you get on “Future’s Future”, as that’s what I get when first listening.

Stand out tracks are all over here, from the initial “Future’s Future”, through “Friendship”, “Light Signal”, and “Face The Future”. There’s so many different pieces that connect the songs here. You’re going to be floored by how the many elements here put forth a solid effort. It’s like taking a journey, walking hand in hand with spiritual framework.

This positive release is a good introduction to the artist. The beats are great, the lyrical content is good, and you really do get a sense for an artist that is still progressing, and growing. If you’re looking for a new hip hop record, and are tired of the same old hubris and bravado, here’s an honest and positive look at life. XT Dream really does well here.

Check out XT Dream via Band Camp here, and make sure that you keep tabs on what this artist produces. Something tells me this is just the beginning.

Catch up with XT Dream via Facebook here, via Twitter and instagram by following @XTDream , and don’t forget to support independent artists, pick up the record. Oh, and one last thing, check out this video for one of the stand out tracks on the album:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

P.O.D. Talk Christian Music and More via Rapzilla

P.O.D. sat down with Rapzilla to discuss Christian music, art and their faith. It's an interesting video that shines light on what I've said about artists for a long time. It's nice to see them come out and talk about this openly again. Even though there are some pundits that want to knock them down a peg.

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