#183 – Oceania

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Artist – The Birthday Massacre
Album – Superstition
Year – 2014
Genre – Gothic Rock/Pop-Metal

Have you ever fantasized about what would happen if Cyndi Lauper decided to add metal riffs to her music? Well then do I have the band/song to make your dreams come true! The Birthday Massacre have been crafting dark synthpop metal tunes for more than a decade. Each song features beautiful vocals done from frontwoman Chibi over lush layers of synths and strings, as well as crunching metal riffs. The effect is actually rather ethereal and truly a treat to listen to. “Oceania” is my favorite track from their newest album Superstition, and I think many people who traditionally shy away from harder rock and metal will very much enjoy this track for its pop sensibility.

Right from the opening staccato drum machine opening, your mind will immediately scream 80’s. Well that feeling never really leaves the whole song. Chibi’s voice has an almost identical quality to the great female pop singers of the same era, like the aforementioned Lauper and golden age Madonna. The synthy bass line keeps right in time and the song even has a similar beat to those songs of decades past. The prechorus is where you’re going to the band pull out some of their first metal guitar sounds as well as play around a bit more with their synth melodies.

The catchiness of the chorus hinges upon the way the synths blend so perfectly with Chibi’s voice, again just like back in the 80’s. Think how good “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” sounded back then. Now add that modern metal crunch. It’s executed so well, with Chibi’s voice hitting high notes with no problem. It’s uplifting and really demonstrates a perfect melding of two worlds.

The next really big highlight comes right after the second chorus with a great old school 80’s hair metal guitar solo. And then right that there’s echoing and atmospheric synth solo that’s dark and brooding, but almost mystical in feeling. It transports you to a place of your imagination’s choosing, but perhaps evokes feelings of the sea or water like the title suggests.

The last chorus is cathartic and transitions right into another quick guitar solo before ending with the ocean waves. The song somehow keeps itself upbeat, but also is, in a strange way, very calming. The vocals are smooth and the synths add a beautiful smooth texture from beginning to end. The guitars are what really add the “Massacre” to the name of the band. With fantastical lyrics on top of all this, hopefully fans of classic 80’s pop will discover something new and exciting with this band. I guarantee if you give it a chance, you won’t regret it.

Leave a comment with your own thoughts! Thanks for reading!

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#182 – Bobby Black

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Artist – Panic Is Perfect
Album – Behind Your Eyelids – EP
Year – 2015
Genre – Indie Pop-Rock/Alternative

Working as music director at 89.3 WGSU (Geneseo’s Voice of the Valley!) at college really opened me to a literal ton of music that I would never have discovered by myself. The sheer vastness of the emails and piles of CDs that would be sent to us each week for rotation was overwhelming to say the least and it made it hard to give everyone a fair shake. However, I made it a point to at least listen to three songs from every CD sent to us, since it takes a lot of effort to press CDs and package them. Quite frankly, the majority of CDs I received I did not care for for one reason or another. However, when I discovered the gems, that just made them shine all the more brightly. Case in point was Panic Is Perfect, a San Francisco Indie Pop band with incredible hooks and crazy production skills. “Bobby Black” was far and away my favorite off the EP we were sent, and though the whole EP is full of fantastic pop-rock tracks, this funky groover of a song takes center stage.

I never thought I would say that a tambourine part is one of the best parts of a track, but without it, this song would be significantly less funky. It’s the part that makes you want to get up and dance, not to mention a killer bass line that just slinks right in from the beginning. The vocals, done by Jeremy Belzer and Mike Hoffman, are really not about the power, but the way that their whispery quality combine with a kickass melody, and the verse transitions perfectly into the chorus, and there’s these really sort of 70’s cheese organ sounds in the background that really add a cool effect to the groove of the song.

The chorus is the showstopper. It’s a simple, simple melody but it’s a head sticker for sure. The tambourine gets even louder, and you can hear a chorus effect that adds depth to it. The melody is a classic high to low, but it’s the smooth transition between notes and words from Belzer and Hoffman that will grab you and make you move your body to the beat.

The bridge of the song is also a standout, with both men jumping to falsetto in another high to low catchy section, which leads directly into the last chorus, where plucked guitar notes become more prevalent and add another pop dimension on top of the well crafted melody and structure. And then…the song is over. It’s a short one at only just over 2 minutes, but these guys know that’s all you need for a hook filled pop song. Put the funk on top and you’ll have people dancing in no time.

The lyrics are also interesting to me. From what I’ve gathered, the song is about the titular character being bullied. Lines like:

They write these lies with their knuckles

and

Every bruise here will be doubled

The song seems to be about Bobby living a life of torment, but wrestling with the fact of whether or not he’s a good enough person to not seek revenge. The bridge and chorus point this out:

You only think of the ways you can pay it back

Run, run, run Bobby Black…
I’m begging you, don’t, don’t overreact
They’re all just fools

It’s kind of a sad song when looked at closer, but it’s hard to forget about the beat of the music, but it’s important that there’s more depth to the song than first meets the ear. Either way, you’re bound to get enjoyment out of “Bobby Black” and from Panic Is Perfect in general. Check these guys out, and get yourself ahead of the curve!

Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts! Thanks for reading!