Month: April 2016

Blink 182 – Bored To Death

I know there are no doubt thousands of people writing in reaction to the new Blink 182 song but I’ve been waiting for this for a long time so I’m adding one more to the mix.

I’m not going to dissect the whole song and discuss each tiny element, and I’m also going to try to avoid direct comparisons between Tom DeLonge and Matt Skiba because, in all honesty, that kind of thing feels a bit lazy. However it has to be noted there are obvious differences that serve to highlight the influence each has had on the songwriting process. This is also Blink’s first time working with John Feldmann, so it’s hard to say which elements are present because of his and Skiba’s involvement, or simply down to Tom not being there.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of “spacey” guitar effects, not that I hated them on some of the more recent Blink releases but I find this song to be far more direct in terms of tone, and it’s also worth mentioning how quickly the vocals come in. The whole thing feels very condensed; almost all of Bored To Death has vocals in some form going on. The whoa-oh bits drag on a bit but I understand it. It gives Travis a time to do what he does best and drum the heck out of everything. There’s also a fair bit of whoa-ing on recent Alkaline Trio albums, so that could be Skiba’s influence shining through.

While we’re on the topic of Skiba, I’ve been a huge fan of Alkaline Trio (and their associated projects) for years, I think I bought From Here To Infirmary around 15 years ago. As soon as I found out he was going to be working with Mark and Travis on this album I was so excited, more excited than I probably was for Neighbourhoods and Dogs Eating Dogs. His introduction seems to have given Blink a new energy. Not necessarily better or worse, as people are so often drawn to say, just different. I’m also excited to see the impact it could have on bands who are either friends with Alkaline Trio, or involve Dan or Derek (The Lawrence Arms, The Falcon and Hot Water Music to name just three).

I’m kind of rambling and just throwing random thoughts into this so I’ll round it up before I get too heavily into it, as that’s something I’m trying to avoid. It’s 10 years since Mark and Travis released When Your Heart Stops Beating with +44 and Bored To Death sounds like a kind of natural progression from that. It has a certain urgency about it, Mark’s vocals are as good as they’ve been for years, Skiba’s vocals are probably as good as I’ve ever heard them and for the first time since Take Off Your Pants And Jacket it genuinely sounds like everyone involved is enjoying what they’re doing.

Anyway, I’m finishing this here. There’ll be a drawing based off the lyrics for Bored To Death coming soon but I wanted to upload this in the meantime.

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Heavy Music

We’ve all described a band as “heavy as fuck” because they play really fast and loud, the vocals are indiscernible and the drums are mainly blast beats and double bass pedals. Heavy heavy heavy. Fast fast fast. Shouty shouty shouty.

Based on these criteria it’s really no surprise that people tend to exclude the likes of Radiohead and Björk in their lists of heavy artists. However, if we reconsider what it takes to make music “heavy” then they definitely can be at times.

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When I saw Refused (I’ll try not to mention this much but I’m still buzzing from it) they were supported by Anna von Hausswolff. I wasn’t sure what we were expecting, having never listened to her before, but her performance was certainly an experience. In hindsight I did really enjoy it but at the time it was all a bit of a shock to the senses. I’ll try to describe her style of music as best I can. Say, for example, you’re watching a horror film. It’s set in a forest. It’s just starting to get dark and the main characters are about to encounter a whole world of awfulness. A song begins to play to add further tension. You think to yourself “Oh shit, someone’s about to die in this film.” One main character watches another die and survives to carry the burden of what they’ve seen with them for the rest of their life. Even this doesn’t do Anna von Hausswolff’s music justice but I’m sure you’re at least part of the way with me in understanding. My brother described it as “Disney doom.” It carries hope and loss at the same time, the sort of music that could be played to lament a loved one.

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It was heavy as fuck. Drone-y, in a good way, and at times the tone of the organs and keyboards filled me with a dreadful weight. That weight in itself is what I sometimes refer to when I say a band or musician is heavy, which is what I mean when I say Radiohead and Björk have their heavy moments. Their songs have a tendency to create tension and inspire an internal sense of longing and dread, and that’s far heavier than any blast beat can be. I’d class Videotape by Radiohead and Sæglópur by Sigur Rós as two of the heaviest songs I’ve ever heard (I’m sure I’ll think of others later on but for now these two demonstrate what I mean pretty much perfectly).

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Despite this kind of music requiring a more focused form of listening (I find I can’t just have it as background music, it demands my full attention) I’m always looking out for more of this style. I guess you can also count Explosions In The Sky, This Will Destroy You and some pieces by Sigur Rós in this bracket. So please recommend songs or artists/bands to me. I’d love to have my mind blown and my head fucked a little more.

Seeing Refused

This is over a month late but whatever.

The Shape Of Punk To Come is my favourite album of all time. I don’t say that lightly, I’m pretty much the biggest music snob I know (something I’m not proud of but can’t seem to break from). I first heard it when I was about 14 or 15 – around 2002, fuck you, I’m old – and immediately fell in love with everything Refused were about. It broke my heart when I found out they broke up several years prior to me discovering them. I’d never get to see them live. Sad faces everywhere.

Then! In 2011! There were rumours of a reunion! Followed by an announcement that they’d be performing at Sonisphere 2012! I already had tickets for Sonisphere and the news had my dick so hard my knees almost burst. Happy faces everywhere. Then, because at this stage fate was deciding to just fuck with me in the most awful of ways, Sonisphere was cancelled and Refused were added to the Download line up instead. The people with whom I was meant to be going to Sonisphere couldn’t make Download, so my wait to see Refused live continued. Sad faces again.

They did a couple of other festivals after that, which I couldn’t afford to attend, but last year they finally released a follow up to TSOPTC. As soon as I knew there was an album coming I hoped for a tour. Freedom was released last June and a tour was announced. We got tickets. Happy faces. I was half expecting it to be cancelled and more sad faces but nope. I finally saw them last weekend, after around 14 years of waiting. My brother didn’t even have to wait that long to see Guns N Roses (albeit not the ‘real’ Guns N Roses if you want to be a dickhead about it).

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The setlist was perfect, older tracks being combined sublimely with the songs from Freedom. They even found space for Coup d’État, Rather Be Dead and Life Support Addiction from Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent. As they closed with New Noise into Tannhäuser/Derivè, the atmosphere in the room was electric. From front to back, the whole room as getting into it either by singing along or by taking part in the pit with the oldest average age I’ve seen for a while.

Seeing a band live can sometimes ruin the magic or something like that, but The Shape Of Punk To Come is still my favourite album and Refused are still my favourite band. Happy happy faces.

Vegan aliens and a quick update

I feel like I should apologise in advance for this one, it’s pretty bizarre. A few weeks ago I tweeted that I’d had a dream about vegan aliens and a few people asked about it and it made sense to write about it here rather than make a thread on Twitter.

So you’ve already got the basics. It was a dream. About aliens. Who are/were vegan. They were your typical alien in terms of how they looked, which kind of annoyed me. I thought my imagination would at least interpret their appearance somewhat but no, just your standard “greys” doing their funky space thing. I don’t remember much about how they communicated but it wasn’t just body language and I don’t think it was 100% telepathic. Some of it was telepathic though; they projected an image into our minds of the future of our planet if we continued with our unsustainable practices with regard to animal agriculture, habitat destruction and insecticides that are harming pollinating insects. It was their aim to come to Earth and ask those of us already challenging one or more of these practices to go and live with them. We could stay if we wanted, so we could continue our efforts in striving for change on our home planet, or we could go with them to what seemed like a utopia with clean air and renewable energy.

I know this sounds really odd. I guess I was processing the mistakes made by humanity and imagining a world without them, in a way relevant to myself (which, of course, had to involve aliens). I say mistakes because that’s how I view them, in regard to the long-term health of Earth and everything living on it. It comes down to interpretation and which industries you support, if you even support any industry at all in their current forms. When I woke up it encouraged me to consider the longer-term effects of my decisions and actions. It also made me wonder if those who had made the decisions leading to our Earth being in its current state had been given an insight into the future like we had done in the dream, whether they’d continue with those actions or reconsider and attempt to find a more compassionate and sustainable approach. Obviously, some would change their minds and some would carry on regardless of any information that might persuade them otherwise. I’ve spent a lot of time recently trying to imagine what the world could be like if various decisions had been made, and how they would have affected the global economy as well as the planet on an environmental level. It’d take days to write down all the possible outcomes, similar to writing out all the possible numerical combinations for a lottery, only slightly more extrapolated to include knock-on effects.

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Anyway, back to the dream. What did I choose? I chose to stay. I’ve always tended to shy away from the easy way out, which is what I thought agreeing to go with them to Planet Alien would be. Vegans often refer to themselves as a voice for the voiceless, the voiceless in this case being animals (as well as the humans directly and indirectly affected by animal related industries). The aliens were only asking vegans to go with them, so what would happen to the voiceless on our planet once their voice is taken away, once the people fighting to improve conditions and life for them are taken away? Leaving seemed like a way of washing my hands of the whole thing and saying I’d done my bit and wasn’t prepared to keep fighting.

So yeah, that’s what happened in the dream. It was all pretty lucid and getting it written down has made me realise I’ve probably levelled up as a vegan in terms of my thought processes.

If you’ve had one similar drop me a message somewhere and let me know. Or let’s just talk about aliens.

May as well chuck some updates for work at the end of here:

I finished an Andrew WK woodburn piece the other day, which was lovingly shared by Andrew on Twitter and Instagram. It was really fun to do so I’m glad it got a good reaction. I’m happy to take on custom woodburn pieces or just consider suggestions for future pieces.

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I was recently at the Nottingham International Tattoo Convention, which was a great learning experience. I’m considering my next move in regard to tattoo conventions, and conventions in general. I’d love to try some music and craft kind of conventions, I’ve also had a thought involving a local vegan coffee shop but I’ll have to see what happens with that.

And finally, bee and mandala tote bags are now available at mrcrypt.bigcartel.com 🙂

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Have a great day and be excellent to one another!