#108 – Something’s Always Wrong

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Artist – Toad the Wet Sprocket
Album – Dulcinea
Year – 1994
Genre – Alternative Rock

Oh I’ve been looking forward to putting this band on the list for a long, long time. I’m going to give you five seconds to take in the band name and let the laughs out. One…two…three…four…five. Ok, that should be good. In all seriousness, Toad the Wet Sprocket has put out some very strong material over the years. “Something’s Always Wrong” is a sensitive, very poignant song about the stress of forming new relationships and learning to find compromise.

The opening of the song just sucks you in with that crisp, clear guitar tone reminiscent of of R.E.M. The opening riff sets the tone for the rest of the song: reflective and sad, with that touch of longing. I don’t know what it is about this song’s production, but it sounds great throughout. Every instrument rings out and nothing and no one overpowers anyone else. The whole band is on point with that 90’s alternative sound (you know the one.)

Frontman Glen Phillips has a wonderful voice for a song of this type, and he’s backed well by his bandmates. His voice wavers and fades out on certain lines in each verse, which leads you to sense what an emotional and powerful song this is for him. The chorus is catchy enough, but on the last line, which just happens to be “but something’s always wrong,” I just break out in goosebumps. The chord progression and the series of note drops that he sings mixed with the heavy sadness in his voice just brings out strong emotions in me. It’s for sure the highlight of the song. Not only that, but there’s a really, really cool vocal pick up with the backing vocals that form verses of their own behind Phillips’ own. Keep an ear open for that.

If that wasn’t good enough, there’s a cathartic bridge section with a strong melody of its own, followed by an even better chorus that repeats that wonderful line three times! It’s good to get what you want. The song ends with the rest of the band showing what they’re made of and they run through the melody of the song until a final end. The instrumentals of this song are almost as good as the vocals, and every member knows his place and they play off each other perfectly.

The lyrics get me in this one. I’m at a point in my life where I can relate to this song very much. Here are both the verses:

Another day I call and never speak
And you would say nothing’s changed at all
And I can’t feel much hope for anything
If I won’t be there to catch you if you fall

Another game of putting things aside
As if we’ll come back to them some time
A brace of hope a pride of innocence
And you would say something has gone wrong

Aren’t those beautiful words? As he expresses his affection and want to be the comforting presence in this other person’s life, it’s apparent that the other party keeps pushing him to the side and not truly paying much attention to him. In a simpler sense, his love is unrequited, but the sad thing is that his longing still remains by the end of the song, and nothing has truly resolved for him. This rings so true for many people who have are trying to find a partner out there, and those who have loved and lost. It sometimes feelings like something really is always wrong whether it be in the search for love or in the relationship its self, or even in the loss. That’s why this song is so important.

Toad the Wet Sprocket may have the strangest band name I have ever chanced upon, but boy can they make some beautiful music. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, I suppose. This song is more than worth remembering. For all the lovers, the romantics, and the lonely out there, this song is for you. We may never hear from this band again, but their past music remains for us to connect to. As Gene from Bob’s Burgers said, “He gave us his magic and then disappeared. Just like Toad the Wet Sprocket.”

Thanks for reading guys! Likes/shares/follows/and comments are a huge help for me, so please feel free to do one or all of those options!

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#107 – Molly’s Chambers

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Artist – Kings of Leon
Album – Youth and Young Manhood
Year – 2003
Genre – Alternative Rock/Garage Rock

Before Kings of Leon were cranking out hits like “Use Somebody,” they were a good old fashioned, down and dirty rock and roll band. To some degree that hasn’t been lost, but when you strip away the polish of their newer albums, you’re left with the sound they had on their debut, Youth and Young Manhood. Molly’s Chambers is a rollicking little ride that’ll get your blood pumping.

The simple main guitar riff does its job with only two chords, which is a much harder thing to do than it sounds. The tone recalls greats like the Kinks, and just like their songs, this song knows how to grab you with a simple riff and stays in your memory. The Followill brothers hit you with a grungy sound that really does sound like it’s coming out of their garage at home. Frontman Caleb’s voice is droning and sultry during the verses, and then kicks into full rocker mode in the chorus, creating an awesome flow to the song.

Despite the simplicity of the layout of the song, there’s some great little bits that pop up. There’s a some great octave layering from the guitar during the second verse which sounds fantastic, as well as a kickin’ guitar solo; short but sweet of course, like the song as a whole. The drums throughout are frenetic, and the whole sound of the band on this tracks is just raw and cohesive and…well, it just works!

The lyrics really do at a lot to the song as well. The sensual and sexual lyrics mesh perfectly with the down and dirty guitar and really give the this primal energy that only pure rock and roll can give you. The fact that the band’s sound was so different when everything is stripped down is refreshing to be sure, and reminds us that some of the best rock music is simple and doesn’t take a lot to grab you.

All in all this is a pretty short review because the song is so short, but this track should be on everyone’s playlist. It has the traces of the Kings of Leon we know and love today, but with a sharper edge and a quicker wit. This song is the band at a point where anything was on the table, and there were no holds barred. If you want rock and roll, Caleb Followill lets you know “You want it? She’s got it.” She being this song. Not really. But get the song anyway. You won’t regret it.

Thanks for reading, guys! Likes/comments/follows/shares are awesome and so are you!

#106 – Killing Loneliness

HIM Dark Light

Artist – H.I.M.
Album – Dark Light
Year – 2005
Genre – Alternative Metal/”Love Metal”

HIM’s genre is labeled by frontman Ville Valo as “Love Metal.” I think that’s too awesome not to put under the genre tag. In reality, HIM’s darkness and doom infused lyrics and melodies harken back to bands like Type O Negative and Depeche Mode who were founders of the “goth” scene. Although that particular stigma may have faded a bit, there is no doubt that the darkness still remains, and HIM does a damn fine job at carrying the torch. It’s both a heartbreaking and passionate song at the same time, which I think adds a lot of credence to the strength of Valo’s lyrics.

This song is another one that’s all about the little things. The haunting piano intro is the first of many small surprises in the song that add to its well laid framework. The song almost has a classical feel as the crunching guitar fades in and strings play across the background. Valo’s voice and the way he uses it is another little thing that just adds so much to the experience the song gives you. It’s delicate and emotive to be sure, but he has melody and power, and he uses that to great effect. The first verse and chorus are spine tinglingly good as Valo weaves in subtle vibrato with his rich baritone romance.

Speaking of melody, there is literally NOT a catchy part of this song. Both verse and chorus have hooks that grab and don’t let go, especially the final lines of each chorus. The descending notes really were a good choice for an ending, as is evidenced by my constant humming. That is, if you could hear through the computer.

“Killing Loneliness” is a song where you come for the band, who does a pretty good job at establishing a decent sound in terms of your standard rock instruments and who shine on the backing classical instruments like the piano, which sounds fantastic against Valo’s voice throughout. However, you’re going to stay because of the lyrical power of the song.

“Memories sharp as daggers
pierce into the flesh of today”

What a way to start a verse. The pain in Valo’s voice may be difficult to discern behind his crooning voice, but it’s there, and it’s thick if you can pick up on it. It’s a phenomenal opening to a song laden with dark romance and longing. If that line doesn’t get you, then check these lyrics out:

“With the warmth of your arms you saved me,
Oh, I’m killing loneliness with you
I’m killing loneliness that turned my heart into a tomb
I’m killing loneliness”

That’s the final part of the chorus, and if you can have a chorus with words like that that strike right to the heart of what loneliness and love is, AND have a catchy, well crafted and extremely emotive melody, then by God you’ve got a winner on your hands. I think the lyrics to this song are gorgeous, and you’ll have to discover the rest on your own. I’m at a point in my life where I can really relate to these words, so thank you Ville Valo for blessing me with your “love metal.”

Great lyrics, great melody, great singing…”love metal.” I just can’t get over that, can I? Still though, this song is for all those who love a great balance between light and dark, romance and despair. Like life, this song is a two sided coin, and you have to know both sides to truly appreciate it.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave a like/comment! Follow me to see more cool songs in the future, and be sure to share! Share with friends and family. Heck, even share it with Cher! That is if you know Cher. Do you know Cher? Could you pass on a good word for me?

#105 – Caves

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Artist – Chiodos
Album – Illuminaudio
Year – 2010
Genre – Post-Hardcore

If any of you are familiar with Chiodos at all, you might be surprised to find I’ve picked a song not featuring Craig Owens, the original and recently reinstated lead singer. I personally love many songs Craig has done, and if you’re not familiar with Chiodos I highly recommend all of Craig’s work, but “Caves” absolutely blows me away every time I hear it. I personally think it’s the best song Chiodos has ever produced.

Drums, drums, drums. This song is all about the drums. I have to give a shoutout to drummer Tanner Wayne, who unfortunately left the band after this album, but boy does he make an impression. The drums that assault your ears from the beginning are absolutely huge sounding and he nails some very difficult rhythms. Right after a blistering drum intro, you hear the really cool repeated hook melody for the first time. It’s a hook unlike anything you’ve heard before; a dark, minor key chant that really makes the song stand out and be heard.

The singer for this album, Brandon Bolmer, does an absolutely fantastic job at both singing, screaming, and everything in between. His voice floats high at first, but then the song absolutely explodes, and Bolmer sing/screams over a wall of thumping drums and powerful guitar chords. For each verse, the backing guitar echoes and shines over the thunder of the drums.

Every chorus is just enormous sounding. The guitar will have you headbanging for sure, and the chord progression just works on every level. Bolmer lets it all out here, but strap yourselves in. This band isn’t done yet.

The post chorus, or I guess the bridge section, is mind blowing. Just listen to the drums on this part. Tanner Wayne hits rhythms that completely go against the time signature of the song but somehow fit right into place. It’s hard to explain the sound, but you’ll know when you hear it. What makes it even cooler is that these fills are played over the opening chant, so with the pace now picked up it sounds even better than before.

There’s another fiery chorus, then another neat post chorus section with Bolmer using great vocal dynamics and more guitar and drum awesomeness, and that’s a technical term for those who didn’t know. What really gets me is the final chant section, with Bolmer adding all his passion on it. Instead of a “doo” he adds a full on “OH” to it, which just pumps you up, even though the song is coming to a close. With all the instruments dropping out before one last soaring chorus, you know it’s going to be a strong finish, and it is. The drums go nuts, and the song closes by displaying the talent of all involved in this song. A well deserved end if there ever was one.

Chiodos’ “Caves” may not be the most orthodox choice for my first Chiodos review, but it earns every ounce of praise it gets. It’s motivational message and breathtaking instrumentation amp you up like no other of their songs, and though the musicians on this record were short lived, they proved they could not only hold their own against the stigma of Owens’ departure, but they could thrive and truly create a song that embodied every principle that Chiodos stood for. Don’t miss this one, rock/metal fans!

Thanks for reading, y’all! Be sure to leave a like/comment and follow me if you want to see more cool songs n’ stuff. Sharing is encouraged, of course. Because sharing is caring…and that’s what makes it fun.

#104 – Mountain Song

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Artist – Jane’s Addiction
Album – Nothing’s Shocking
Year – 1988
Genre – Alternative Rock

Jane’s Addiction almost single handedly defined the definition of “alternative.” There was really no sound like theirs at the time Nothing’s Shocking was released, and if this song alone tells you anything, it’s that the band were pioneers of their craft.

If you’re not pretending to play that opening bassline, or humming it, or something, then this is probably your first time hearing it and you will forever play air bass to this. Congratulations, welcome to one of the coolest bass openings of all time. The groove is only broken by frontman and, fun fact, Lollapalooza creator Perry Farrell’s shriek and guitarist Dave Navarro’s wicked guitar that mirrors the bass melody. Now we’re on our way to something special.

Navarro’s guitar is crunchy and the song has one of those riffs you’re going to air guitar to. It flat out rocks, and yet it’s only a couple chords that repeat. Farrell’s distinct yell singing gives this air of power and release to the world. Every band member is perfectly on point with their instruments, and the production on this song will blow you away. This song is hard alternative at its finest. The kick drum pounds like an earthquake, and Farrell’s voice blows like a hurricane gale and is only accentuated by the echo effects the song utilizes liberally.

As Farrell’s cathartic vocals continue, the song never stagnates in its use of repetition. In fact, it never loses any luster from beginning to end, and that’s thanks to Navarro’s work on the solo. Holy jeez is this a cool solo. After being kicked in by a cracking snare roll, the solo with a sliding, echoing, talk-box like effect, followed by some totally unique scratching and almost ghostly plunking sounds and a wailing finish. It showcases a guitarist who’s not afraid to experiment and mess with convention, but who can also craft an iconic riff out of nowhere. Cudos, Dave!

The song ends with some more sweet riffage and a final, hard send off to a song that broke the mold for Alt. Rock, which has never looked back since. As for lyrics, the song is a bit “loose” in it’s lyrical construction to say the least, but that’s what personal interpretation is for, right? To me, it’s a song about letting go of fears and just putting yourself out there. It’s a big world, so “cash in now.”

This song just oozes cool, and for good reason. A sound like this comes around only once in a long, long while. Luckily, this band still tours and was just in town last year, though I didn’t get to go because of, you know, school and responsibilities and…stuff. But hey, if you guys out there get a chance to hear “Mountain Song” live, I’d love to hear about it. Until then though, be sure to turn the volume up for this one.

Thanks for reading/listening, guys! Be sure to like/comment on this post, and follow me if you want more groovy songs to discover! Sharing is encouraged. It is music, after all.

#103 – God Only Knows

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Artist – The Beach Boys
Album – Pet Sounds
Year – 1966
Genre – Classic Rock/Baroque Pop

For the record, I think “Baroque Pop” has to be one of the coolest genre titles I’ve encountered.

“God Only Knows” comes from Pet Sounds, not only the most lauded of Beach Boys albums, but also one of the most praised albums of all time. It’s arguably the Sgt. Peppers of the Beach Boys, if you’ll forgive the analogy to that other band. Beautiful sound quality and melodic structure of the record aside, this particular song personifies everything amazing the Beach Boys have to offer. It took frontman and main songwriter Brian Wilson only 7 minutes to write, and the song is a testament to incredible beauty and musical complexity in a minimal structure.

The opening of this song is heaven. The first thing you hear is that beautiful melody of strings and twelve-string guitar overlapping and creating this gorgeous wall of sound. The bass kicks in and takes the song right to the beginning of Wilson’s lyrics.

The unique chords used in the song come into play at the beginning of the verses. As Wilson sings, his voice weave around that simultaneously sound out of place and perfect at the same time. The best part is that he resolves each verse impeccably, despite the initial melodic uncertainty. It’s really great songwriting on his part.

The next verse is more of the same in terms of melody, but Wilson’s voice is the star. It’s emotive and open to you, and his earnestness is so clear you can touch it. This is the peak of his singing ability, so there’s really no note he can’t bend to the emotional tone of the song here.

The little “breakdown” in the middle of the song is a playful little bridge that has some more really neat chords and note runs in it that really build anticipation for the vocal overlaps right after. The other members do The Beach Boys thing and play off each other in each of their vocal parts and make sweet, sweet music with their voices. They even do the “buh buh buh” thing! What more do you want?

It’s not over yet, because this is where the song kicks it into high gear. Wilson’s emotion builds as the song comes to a close, and his sentiment becomes all the more palpable, until the final, famous, “God Only Knows” vocal interplay section. This is the true triumph of the song, and simply needs to be heard to understand the beauty of it. The melody is not only catchy, but truly (I know I say this too much) beautiful.

The simple phrase “God only knows what I’d be without you” is so simple, yet profound in it’s ability to take a snapshot of a lover’s thoughts. Wilson’s lyrics throughout the song do the same thing. There is nothing said that is truly “profound” in a general sense, but in truth, everything in this song is profound. At least to me, and I hope to most of you out there, too.

It doesn’t matter how simple or complex a song is, every new song about love and feelings of love is an experience waiting to be heard. It just so happens that Wilson wrote a song that is so elegant in it’s construction and lyrical simplicity and beautiful in it’s melody that it stands the test of time. There’s just as much beauty in simply saying “I love you” than there is a a complex tone poem of a song, and Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys can prove it to you right here.

Thanks for listening! Likes, comments, follow, and shares are always appreciated! Get out there and listen to the music šŸ™‚

#102 – Broken Heart

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Artist – Motion City Soundtrack
Album – Even If It Kills Me
Year – 2007
Genre – Pop-Punk

I told you guys I might be able to squeeze some stuff in during my “hiatus.” Not much of a hiatus then I guess.

When you’re feeling down, all you really want to do is listen to sad songs. Sometimes, though, you need a little pick me up. Luckily Motion City Soundtrack has you covered with Broken Heart, a sad song that’s upbeat enough to rock out to and belt out in your room while still having incredibly clever and honest lyrics that perfectly capture the essence of heartbreak and comparing yourself to others out there who have found love or who are in love.

The thing about frontman Justin Pierre’s voice, especially in this song, is that it’s not perfect. That being said, it’s all the more believable when you hear him sing, and he may not be perfect, but he’s pretty damn good regardless. Right off the bat, the chugging guitar gets you pumped for the chorus, as the drums play a really cool rhythmic pattern between Pierre’s voice and the guitar.

The chorus fires on all cylinders, with a great wall of guitars, crashing drums, really bright and poppy synths, and Pierre’s emotive singing. The melody is really catchy and awesome to sing along to, especially if you’re really feeling let down or sad. Then you gotta belt that shit out. It’s both uplifting and softly affirming of your feelings at the same time. Tricky thing to do, that is. (Where the hell did Yoda come from?)

There’s some really cool guitar play right after the first chorus leading into the second verse, so keep an ear open for that. Again, great lyricism in this verse as well, but more on that later.

The guitar solo is the really special part of this song. It’s so simple, with long, drawn out notes and quick little licks in between, but the particular sequence of notes as they descend gives me goosebumps. This is a prime example of the emotion to be found in pure music, as the notes in this solo really paint a picture of sadness and longing. It’s a cathartic solo to be sure, and one that has to be heard to be understood.

After a short bass underlaid “mini verse,” the final chorus brings the song to a loud and proud end, with a lyrical twist at the end. See if you can pick up on it.

Now, I love just about every lyric in this song. I can relate to them very, very much, and I’m sure most of you out there who listen to this song can really put the words here to some event or moment in your life, whether that be now or in the past. There’s too many great lines for me to post here, and I really want you guys to hear it for yourselves, but just take a look at this chorus:

But I get carried away with every day
And every fantasy
The deeper the wound,
The harder I swoon and wish that that was me
There’s so much to say
But no words to convey
The loneliness building with each passing day
But Iā€™m getting used to it
You have to get used to it

I have shivers just reading that. I think the beauty of it is the fact that those words capture the true sense of longing, or wishing we were that guy who’s had a girlfriend for years and years and seems so happy. Certainly happier than us at this moment. We want to shout to the world how lonely we are, but the words just don’t come out right or don’t come out at all, and then finally we sort of resign ourselves to our own thoughts and hope for the best. That’s how I feel about these words, but what do you guys think about them?

Broken Heart is one of Motion City Soundtrack’s strongest songs, and certainly one of their most emotionally potent. If you’re going through heartbreak, this is a must. If you’re looking for a great song to just rock out to at any time, same deal. It’s kind of funny that way.

Thanks for reading, and if you like this song/review, leave a like, comment, follow me, or share this page with your buddies!

Ciao for now!

(Very, Very) Short Hiatus

And when I say short, I mean about a week, tops. Hey everyone, I just wanted to let you know why I haven’t been posting for a while. My Ipod has been acting strange for a while now, and I finally wanted to get it checked out. It turns out my hard drive is on its way out and I need to backup all the songs on my Ipod asap before the hard drive can have a chance to crash. The only problem is, the problem with the hard drive is stopping some songs from transferring to the external hard drive, and the songs are in code so I have no clue what song is what. From here on, I’m making a list of every song on my Ipod and then i’m going to check to see which songs made the transfer and which I’ll have to re-download (somehow). Anyways, this has been a bit of a hold up for the past few days and I apologize. My Ipod is probably the most precious possession I own, and getting it repaired is a top priority for me. Hopefully all this stressful stuff will be done in a week or so. Until then, we’ll see if I have time to put up some stuff, but thanks for understanding guys!

Best

Kris

#101 – From My Cold Dead Hands

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Artist – Combichrist
Album – We Love You
Year – 2014
Genre – Aggrotech

Combichrist will tear you apart, both literally and metaphorically. If you love dance music AND metal/industrial, than I think you’ve finally found your perfect match! Or, if you’re looking for perfect angry music to play video games to, Combichrist was made for that task. The Norwegian band, led by frontman Andy LaPlegua, mixes metal screams with infections aggressive beats and samples galore. If you can’t tell whether you’re supposed to dance or mosh, then welcome to Combichrist! We’re glad you’re here.

Right off the bat, you know shit’s going down. The throbbing bass that starts the song quickly transitions to a pulsing beat and a stuttering heavy sound that sounds like a malfunctioning jackhammer. The band immediately knows that they’ve turned it up to 11 on this one, and this dub-like beat is loud and heavy, and forms the basis of the song. The song is actually quite layered and filled with intricacies. If you listen close, you can pick all all kinds of industrial sounds throughout the background of each verse.

The song is balanced between robotic clean vocals and LaPlegua’s trademark screams that cut right to the core. It provides a really neat dichotomy I haven’t seen in a Combichrist song. In any case, LaPlegua really let’s it all out on this song, and his screams will really get you pumped up to blow up some zombies, or go for a really long intense run…maybe from zombies.

The chorus has this really cool synth line going on in the background that adds just enough tinge of a melody to breathe some more melodic life into this track, which is great to hear. I always can appreciate a song that knows it’s heavy, but surprises you with melody as well.

As for the lyrics here, I once read a review of Combichrist that said that in order to fully appreciate the band, you have to sort of approach the lyrics and music with a nihilistic point of view. I don’t think that’s entirely true, as I think that any fan of harder music can appreciate what this band does, but certainly this song’s lyrics are, shall we say…patriotically nihilistic. Just keep that in mind. I mean, what were you expecting from a song called, “From My Cold Dead Hands?”

One cool thing to note is that the back and forth between LaPlegua’s anguished screaming and the cold robotic voice accentuates the song’s message of man vs. the system. I just love little musical tricks like that.

Overall, “From My Cold Dead Hands” is a heavy track that doesn’t disappoint whatsoever. The grinding beat and heavy bass will get you amped up, and the vocals keep you locked in for the ride. Any fan of heavier metal or dance music should definitely give Combichrist a shot. It’s pure aggressive motivation in a song, and I think you’ll find yourself getting stuff done right when you listen to it. Video games? Won. Going for a run? New fastest time. Housework? Wow, that was some hardass grease scrubbing you did on that pan!

Thanks for reading, and if you like this song/review, leave a like, comment, follow me, or share with a friend!

Name Change

Hey all, so I wanted to make this it’s own post, but I’ve been thinking about changing the name of this blog. I just feel that the title I have is a bit long winded and narrow minded, with the whole “ipod” thing. I have a few ideas in my head, but since this blog is half yours, I want to ask all of you out there if you have any ideas suggestions about a new name for the blog. Keep in mind, we still have to keep the “1001 songs” part, but the rest is up for grabs.

Leave a comment on this post with your idea for the new name!

Thanks again, and don’t forget to tell your friends about the blog, and tell them to vote too!