#11 – Angel

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Artist – Depeche Mode
Album – Delta Machine
Year – 2013
Genre – Alternative/ Dark Synthpop

Depeche Mode’s Angel, from their new album Delta Machine, is another song with a bit of pop culture tied to it. It’s featured as the ending credits song for the new fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us. Let me tell you this: they could not have picked a better song to end the game with. The game is awesome, by the way. Comic book fan or not, you should totally check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGRcblXDaJw
That said, it’s review time.

This song is sexy, no bones about it. It’s dark, brooding, and sensual. The opening ultra-deep, throbbing bassline immediately puts you in the mood (if you know what I mean…) Dave Gahan then immediately starts with his vocals that I can only describe by saying that he sings as if he’s right in the middle of, shall we say, a VERY intimate experience. He sings off kilter, and seems to slur and accent his words in various ways which accentuates the pulsating rhythm of the song. The vocals really add so much here. It really gives the song that extra oomph that drives home that erotic feel. He almost teases and pulls back, singing melodic bridges between verses, before he finally gives it all he’s got for the final quarter, where he moans “The angel of love was upon me, and Lord I felt so high! I swear I could have reached up, and put my hands upon the sky!”

The musical patterns of the song get better and better as the song progresses. The synth absolutely pounds, and it gets more and more intense, especially when the song picks up the tempo about half way in. The guitar is sparse, but the repeated riff that is played occasionally is just right, adding that needed bit of extra texture. Going back to the tempo change at the last half, the song really starts to rip here. You’re just going to want to gyrate your hips to this one. I can see this song being played in a smoky nightclub, and it would definitely get the crowd dancing. The song ends with Gahan’s melodic bridge being repeated to the end; with a smooth finish to close out a song that pulses and surges like a heartbeat.

Angel is a dark, sexy song that has an incredible bassline beat and is totally great for both those intimate moments, and also for totally just dancing your heart out. I would say consider playing this in the bedroom to spice things up, but don’t be afraid to play it at a rocking house party. Either way , it’s sure to get you going. Simple as that.

So what do you guys think of Angel? As always leave your comments below, and I’m curious to hear your responses. Thanks again!

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#10 – Critical Acclaim

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Artist – Avenged Sevenfold
Album – Avenged Sevenfold
Year – 2007
Genre – Nu-metal/Hard Rock

When I was a teenager, I did one thing that most other teenagers out there do at some point. I became a rebellious rapscallion and started listening to hard rock and metal to show how much I didn’t care about anything and how tough I was. Which was totally untrue since I was and am still the most soft spoken, most non-agressive guy on planet earth. But I digress. It didn’t matter what genre of metal it was, as long as it was loud and angry. Now I consider myself a man of many tastes, but metal music has always stuck with me for many reasons. It has a lot of great musical qualities, and some of the nicest people ever listen to metal and hard rock. This is true. Avenged Sevenfold has always been one of my favorites, because I feel they seamlessly blend fantastic melody in with their nu-metal sound, and still maintain that tough edge that makes nu-metal, nu-metal. Anyway, let’s get to the review.

An organ opening is the last thing you would expect from a song like this, but it happens right at the start, and I must say that it is a very welcome addition! It sets a great tone for the song, and actually the rest of the album. Dark, macabre, and sinister is the tone that you’ll get. The musicianship in this song is absolutely flooring. With constant crazy riffs from guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance, and CRAZY drums from The Rev (RIP dude), this song has everything a nu-metal fan could want. But this song is also for those who just enjoy good old rock and roll. Singer M. Shadows has a voice that has the ability to spit out gorgeous melodies whilst also hissing like a snake. It’s really quite extraordinary what range he has. After the intro, he begins his insidiously harsh whispering and then begins to really belt it out. All the while the riffs are just rocking in the background. After the verses, there are these great little political rant breakdowns that really fit the song well. More great riffs and drum fills and verses to follow, but then we get to the bridge.

The bridge is the best part of the song. The chords are super catchy and pleasing to the ear, and Shadows’ singing is a delight here. (Can I just say here that I just used the word “delight” in a metal review?) The background harmonies are so good. So good. At the end of it, Shadows just lets it go with “I’m not the last but I sure ain’t the FIRST!” Then comes the solo, which is, in typical Avenged Sevenfold fashion, very good. I cannot stress how talented the musicians are in this band really are. The music is the standout, but the lyrics here are very sharp, too. It’s an obvious political slam, but it’s done with conviction and wit. Then, the chorus repeats with the riffs following to the end, closing out a great nu-metal song that is catchy, aggressive, very sharp music-wise, and easily enjoyable for any who enjoy a great rock song.

I’ve seen this band twice, and they’ve really impressed me with their live performance as well. You should check it out, too. Here’s a link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKWMFtU7JjA

So, let me know what you guys thought. Did you enjoy the song? Why or why not? How was my review? Leave your comments below! I’d really appreciate it!

On Comments and Questions

Hey guys,

Since I’m new to WordPress, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I wasn’t getting comments. I realized it’s because the majority of time, I think viewers only see my homepage, which is a giant list of all my posts. In order to comment, I figured out you have to click on the giant blue song titles that I post, which will take you to the individual song pages, which have comments below them. So this is how we do it. This is how we do it, baby.

Also, I wanna hear from you guys about what you think of the songs I post. I’m still working on setting up a way for you all to eventually send me YOUR songs for review, but I still want to hear your opinions of my reviews and the songs. I’ll be asking after every song post now, so don’t be shy! Love it, hate it, I want to hear it. I’d really appreciate any feedback I can get! Thanks everyone!

#9 – Paper Doll

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Artist – John Mayer
Album – Paradise Valley
Year – (Coming August 2013)
Genre – Soft Rock/Blues Rock

As promised, here’s a brand spankin’ new track from this week for review. Ok, I admit it is from LAST week, but I felt I had to review this one, as it’s been on my playlists heavily these past two weeks. Also, rumor is that this track is his slam back at Taylor Swift for her track “Dear John,” hence the 22 reference in the song.

John Mayer’s work is rooted in the blues. His earlier albums, especially his debut, Room for Squares, feature catchy guitar oriented blues rock songs perfect for summer days. As his career progressed, Mayer began to change his sound drastically, and not all of it was for the better. Fortunately, Mayer makes a great return to his roots with Paper Doll.

Right from the beginning the mood is set with a smooth, subtle drum beat and bubbly guitar. It’s very jazzy, and very relaxing as well. Mayer’s signature smokey voice complements the music perfectly, and the instrumentation is catchy and calming at the same time. The catchiest piece of the song by far is the chorus. The harmonies Mayer uses work like a charm at hooking you instantly, and the last line “Was it just too far to fall for a little paper doll” is sung impeccably well. The beat itself is relatively static, but that’s perfectly fine because Mayer’s jazzy licks keep things interesting and groovy, too. His guitar skills are very evident on this song, and it feels like he’s playing with notes trying to bust out the perfect lick.

The lyrics are almost quietly sassy. He sings them with such ease you would never know that the song is about comparing an ex-love interest to a paper doll; always unstable and fragile. The song fades out lightly to the end, which is just as it should be. After listening, you’ll want to listen again so you can grab your lounge chair and sunscreen, run down to the beach, throw your headphones on and just soak up the sun whilst sipping your pina colada (assuming you have one with you.) To summarize: it’s catchy, it’s jazzy, it’s EXTREMELY chill. You’ll be getting good vibes all day from this song. Is it about Taylor Swift? Eh, I’ll leave it up to you.

What do you guys think of the track? Let me know in the comments! I’m curious to see if you think it IS about T Swift, or if you liked it or didn’t like it and why.

#8 – Carolina In My Mind

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Artist – James Taylor
Album – James Taylor
Year – 1968
Genre – Folk/Acoustic Rock

James Taylor’s Carolina In My Mind is pure, honest songwriting at its finest. It’s a very emotional song, and when you listen, you can feel that same emotion for yourself. It’s a song about love and finding your way, but at its essence, it’s a song about just being homesick for where you come from and for the people you love.

The song’s sweet acoustic melody is a wonderful example of classic folk rock, and no one does it better than old Jimmy Taylor. It’s relatively simplistic, because it has to be. Sometimes the simplest songs bring out the most emotion in us, and what beautiful words he writes. “There ain’t no doubt in no one’s mind that love’s the finest thing around. Whisper something soft and kind. A silver tear appearing now. I’m crying, ain’t I?” I mean, what words. It’s an outpouring of sadness and longing we rarely see in music. To add to this, Taylor’s voice is one of the sweetest and most clear voices of any folk singer. When he sings these lyrics, you just want to put your arm around him and tell him it’s going to be alright.

Everything in this song just works. The melody is simple and catchy, but the song never comes across as false or too sweet. The piano and guitar are perfectly blended to create just the right mood for a song like this. The music itself here is wonderful, but more important is the message we all can take away from this song while listening. We’ve all had times of great loneliness and longing. This song speaks to heart of these feelings, and it provides great comfort to know that these are feelings that we can get through. The song is about hope. It’s about always remembering there are those that love you out there, and to top it off, it’s all wrapped up in a beautifully simple melody and a sweet voice. I’ll say it again. This song is pure honesty, and it’s something we could all use a little bit more of.

One last fun fact: Paul McCartney and George Harrison sing background vocals on this song! Just another reason to give it a spin.

#7 – Under the Stars

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Artist – Morning Parade
Album – Morning Parade
Year – 2012
Genre – Alternative

I was fortunate enough to see this very talented group open for Anberlin in Buffalo. They put on a great show and really crafted their songs well. The band itself, and this song in particular have garnered a lot of praise from the likes of BBC, MTV, and AbsolutePunk. It’s even been featured on “Vampire Diaries”. Now can you get any better than that? Alright, let’s get into it.

I flat out love this song. It starts with a hauntingly atmospheric synth drone that will seriously grab you from the first seconds. Then the beautiful guitar work is delicately laid over the top and actually sounds like twinkling stars, which is very fitting. As for vocals, Steve Sparrow has a absolutely breathtaking voice. It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It’s powerful, but sensitive and, well…ethereal (people who know me know how much I hate to use that word!) It’s something best experienced for yourself.

The song is a constant build up, and when you hear the guitar riff at about a quarter way through, you’re going to bob your head, or tap your foot, or do SOMETHING with your body. Don’t fight it, it’s what’s meant to happen. Then the song really picks it up and Sparrow gets even more emotional and powerful in his delivery. Then, harmony comes in. The backing harmonies for this song are great. They’re just wonderful, and at about halfway through the track, all the pieces seem to be in place and the song feels vindicated already. When I heard it, I thought, “Alright, how can this get better.” Then you hear the breakdown.

Oh my. The harmonies soar, and your heart will go all aflutter at just how damn GOOD the song comes together. The synthesizer adds a pulsing, glittery beat behind the vocals and the drums begin to hold nothing back. You’re feeling great, you’re feeling fantastic! But alas, the song couldn’t last forever, and eventually the song tapers off towards the very end and then abruptly stops, leading into the next track on the album.

This is a song that should really be experienced on an individual level. I can only describe how I felt about it, but this is a song that will have a personal meaning different for everyone who hears it. Maybe it’s a sad song, maybe a happy song. The interpretation is up to you, but the music is undeniable. So take a listen, and you have my guarantee that you won’t be let down.

#6 – Somnambulist (Simply Being Loved)

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Artist – BT
Album – Emotional Technology
Year – 2003
Genre – Trance/Electro

We live in a time where dance music has pushed it’s way from the underground into the mainstream. That being said, before this trend, there were some pretty killer dance tracks being made by the EDM community back in the early 2000’s, and this is one of them. This song was formed during the early years of trance and electro music, and creates a fusion of both genres.

BT, or Brian Transeau is a very well respected DJ/Producer from the U.S., and he’s worked with the likes of other great musicians like Peter Gabriel. He’s definitely not a one trick pony, and as soon as you start this song, the infectious glitch beats will grab you. The music here is creative stuff the likes of which we rarely see today. The beat pulsates and constantly changes rhythm. The vocals in this track stutter and waver constantly, which is a really awesome effect and it makes the song very unique. The wonderful thing about this song besides the intensely frenetic vibe you’ll get are the lyrics. Usually trance songs have pretty simplistic lyrics, but this song actually dives deeper with BT providing his own deeply soulful voice to lyrics that touch at the heart of all human need. “Simply being loved is more than enough…i’m praying for love.” Those are words that ring true with my own inner being, and are definitely not the “let’s go out and party” lyrics of a lot of today’s dance tracks. Not that those are bad or anything…

The overlaying lines of melody and effects on BT’s voice create wonderful harmonic patterns throughout the song that just work. The right chords are made and the beat feels perfect. It that perfect song for you to roll the windows down on a hot summer night and blast while the warm wind hits your face. Wow, that was some intense imagery, but I guarantee if you’re into exploring a little deeper into the past of the pop dance songs of today, you’ll find that this song is a gem. It’s perfect for those kinds moments where you need to let go. If that doesn’t grab you, here’s a fun fact: this song holds the Guinness World Record for the most number of vocal edits in a song with 6,178. Boom.

#5 – Mammoth

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Artist – The Devil Wears Prada
Album – Dead Throne
Year – 2011
Genre – Hardcore

If you dig hardcore music or metal in general, the first words out of your mouth while listening to this song should be, “Yeah. That’s heavy.”

And it is, friends. The absolutely pulverizing guitar in this track is about as heavy as hardcore can get without crossing into the “Cannibal Corpse” realm, but we won’t go there. As far as the music goes, the verses are fast paced, and extremely well done technically. The subtle interplay between guitars here is great, but the vocals by Mike Hranica on the screams and Jeremy DePoyster on the cleans are packed with emotion. The heaviness of the song not only comes from the riffs, but the content of the lyrics. The song deals with inner loneliness and turmoil both in the outside world and within oneself. It’s emotional stuff, and Hranica screams it out like he needs to cleanse himself of sadness. When the chorus hits, the music actually becomes beautiful in its construction, despite the heaviness. The chords put out by the guitars seem to mirror the anguish of the wonderful clean vocals, which are pleading and frankly very moving as they deal with thoughts during our darkest times. I loved the way it unfolded, and it certainly wasn’t the way I was expecting.

The song continues on this path until it finishes, with a verse chorus, verse chorus until the end, but that’s not what makes this song special. Rarely do you see such a display of emotion in the lyrics of a hardcore song. The Devil Wears Prada is excellent at taking these emotions and putting them in a genre that is often known for it’s violent lyrics, and I respect them very much for that. Yes they are Christian, and yes the song mentions God, but with such a display of honesty and very well crafted music, it shouldn’t matter. If you’re looking for a great metal track full of emotion, honesty, wonderful craftsmanship, and integrity, look no further than Mammoth.

P.S. The video for this song is wonderfully made. It’s actually very resonant with the song, so check it out!

#4 – Where the Lines Overlap

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Artist – Paramore
Album – Brand New Eyes
Year – 2008
Genre – Pop-Punk/Rock

Paramore has always been a standout band in the Pop Punk scene, and this track will show you exactly why. First of all, Hayley Williams is, I think, one of the most talented female singers in music today. Her voice hits you like a ton of bricks; it’s powerful and full of expression. The track begins with an actually pretty unique guitar pattern that repeats throughout the song. The rest of the instrumentation here is very good for the genre, but let’s not beat around the bush here. The absolute standout quality of this track is Williams. Her song lyrics are sassy and confident, and this song is NOT the only exception. (Sorry, bad Paramore joke). Anyway, this song has a a KILLER chorus. As soon as the beat comes in for the chorus, you just want to rock out, pick up your hairbrush, and sing along! It’s full of punch, and it really gets in your face and in your head, in a good a way! The way she sings the last line “No one is as lucky as us,” you will get chills, friends. CHILLS at how well she sings that line! The track finishes strong as well with an emotive bridge and a powerful last chorus into the instrumental homestretch and finish. The summarize this track, I will say this: it’s a song that has great heart and oomph to it that really gets you going and in the mood to have fun. It’s a track you can listen to repeatedly and really never get tired of the way it’s sung.

#3 – Reaching the Potential

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Artist – A Silent Film
Album – Sand & Snow
Year – 2012
Genre – Alternative/Soft Rock/Brit Rock

Let’s dive right into this one. Background strings and the soft, honest voice of frontman Robert Stevenson start off this song. It begins alright, but when it gets going…oh boy you better hold on for an emotional roller coaster! As soon as the song’s driving drum beat kicks in, Stevenson throws it into high gear on his output. He bares his soul, seemingly digging inside himself and pouring his heart out into lines like “We’re animals in cages, actors on a pay role…I love you, do you love me? Are we reaching our potential?” All the while the piano and strings swell up to an amazing crescendo after each and every verse. When listening, you’ll hopefully get the same feeling I got, which is a sort of happy sadness if that makes any sense at all. The chords are beautifully laid out in this song, and the sense of resolution at the end of each verse leaves you feeling fulfilled, but also wanting more of the same. The ending of the song continues to add layers of instrumentation, until the final note is delivered, leading you into the next song of an overall amazing album, but more on that some other time. All in all, this is a lovely track filled with beauty in the music, beauty in the lyrics, and one that will leave you coming away wanting more of the same!