The Return of Blink 182

Today, the music world became electric with excitement, barely keeping a lid on itself. After nearly 5 years since their last full length album, Neighborhoods, Blink 182 have finally announced that their new album’California’ will be released on July 1st of this year. To get fans even more pumped up, they released a new single titled, ‘Bored to Death’, via their Facebook page. I listened to this right before writing this post, and I absolutely love it. ‘Bored to Death’ is very reminiscent of ‘Neighborhoods’, in the sense that it has a more mature vibe to it. They’re not singing about girls or sex or anything crazy like that, it’s them bearing their souls after such a long time and after a rollercoaster 5 years.

Of course, everyone by now knows that the Blink 182 who have come back, are not the Blink 182 from 5 years ago. There has always been a love/hate relationship between the Travis, Mark and Tom, something which has time and time again put a strain on the band. It seemed that, after Neighborhoods was released that everything was okay between the three of them again, yet it didn’t last this way for long. I began to wonder if Tom particularly wanted to stay a part of Blink 182 after seeing their Reading performance on TV in 2014. The vocals from Tom were…like he wasn’t trying that much to give a good performance. It sounded as though he was just speaking the words instead of singing them like Mark was, and there was no attempt to harmonise between them. It just felt flat. There was all this buzz about them headlining, and at first when I watched it I thought something was wrong with the sound quality, but as the performance went on, it was clear that Tom just wasn’t making the effort.

The reason why I was so disappointed was because I went to go see them in 2012 for their 20th Anniversary Tour, and all three members were incredible, pouring their everything into the show. So, only 2 years on to see that the spark had already fizzled out, I honestly thought that we were never going to hear new Blink music again.

However, 2015 comes around and this is the year where Blink 182 hot up again. Tom DeLonge leaves Blink after quite public disagreements with the rest of the band, and Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio guitarist and singer) is brought in as his replacement. Initially, long term fans were sceptical about having such a prominent member replaced as they saw Blink 182 as always being Mark, Tom and Travis. Although in a very short time, fans quickly warmed to Matt becoming part of Blink, and after listening to ‘Bored To Death’, it’s clear that his vocals suit the style that Blink are going for with ‘California’.

I am incredibly excited about hearing more news to do with this album, and hearing it in full when it comes out on 1st July. Hopefully the spark won’t fizzle out this time.

Fearless Vampire Killers: ‘Bruises’ Review

Formed in Beccles in 2008, Fearless Vampire Killers are a band who have come a long way and grown so much in terms of their musical ability and sound since their first EP ‘In Grandomina’. Made up of 5 members; drummer Luke Illingworth, bassist Drew Woolnough, guitarist Cyrus Barrone (aka Shane Sumner) and joint front-men Kier Kemp and Laurence Beveridge who both take it in turns to do vocals and guitar, they create songs rich in individuality and all joined together through a story that weaves through their albums. Both their debut album ‘Militia of the Lost’ and ‘Unbreakable Hearts’ are based on novels created by Laurence Beveridge, set in the fictional city of Grandomina, with themes of love, loss, war and -of course- vampires and the ‘Fearless Vampire Killers’.

However, ‘Bruises’ does not seem to follow that same pattern. This mini album has taken a more personal route, with the band members expressing emotions that they feel, not that their characters feel. The songs are more like anthems, filled with truth, and you can hear how passionate both Kier and Laurence are when they sing their respective songs. At moments the music and lyrics are so overwhelming it’s hard not to get emotional. These are different stories they are telling this time, ones from the heart, not the pages of a book.

It starts off with ‘Feel Alive’, a song which encaptures FVK’s sound and throws it at you with a jumpy verses and melodic chorus, showing Kier Kemps voice change from clean cut singing to a harsher shout/scream in the second verse. ‘Feel Alive’ has so much variety in it, from the simple muffled drum beat and guitar riff for the intro, to the slower bridge where the whole band joins in to sing the lyrics, it shows that FVK are able to pack different sections into a song without it sounding patched together and sloppy. It is certainly a powerful opening song, one that captures the listener and shows great promise for the rest of the album.

Promise that is lived up to. The next track ‘Stepping Stones’ is sung by Laurence, who has a more deeper, rawer voice to compliment Kier’s higher range. It’s one of many clearly emotional songs, with a stand-out chorus that gets the listener singing along to it. Again, the whole band joins in to provide backing vocals and harmonies, something that they pull off so well, and is evidence of how tight they are as a group. My favourite part of the song is when they chant the chorus, accompanied by a marching drum roll, as though to show that the ‘we’ in ‘We walk these stepping stones’, includes you as well as them.

‘Keep Smiling’ is in total contrast to its predecessor, with the intro sounding much more like the style of Green Day. It’s exciting, fast and catchy, and keeps the energy level of the album up high. It’s put together in the same way as ‘Feel Alive’, but this time in the chorus you have Kier singing the lead lines over the rest of the band who are singing a repeated section underneath. This does make it hard to hear what the lyrics actually are, therefore losing some of the songs meaning, but this is regained when it comes to Laurence’s spoken word speech. Putting something like this in a song can prove risky, yet Fearless Vampire Killers hit the mark.

‘Ok so this is the way I see it:
All you do is commentate
On what’s hot and what’s not.
What’s hip and what’s shit.
What means something,
And what ain’t nothing.
You’re a leaking spout of shallow observations
Based on half-arsed assumptions.
You’re spineless.
You don’t add anything to this world.
You don’t create anything.
It costs you nothing!
This cost us everything!’

The speech actually relates to the rest of the song, it’s not just in there for the sake of it. Laurence has something he wants to say and has been wanting to for a while, it seems. You can speculate who he may be talking to, politicians, record companies, celebrities, bullies… The main thing is, people can relate to it. It’s powerful. And these days you need power in order to stand out in the music scene.

‘Regret’ is a beautiful song. It’s one that really touches me personally, and is one of those songs that gets you thinking, contemplating. ‘I’m holding on to something, I’m holding on to this regret’. Everyone has a regret, it’s not something you can let go of easily, and Fearless Vampire Killers capture that feeling and put it into this song. It’s a song that is very stripped back considering how huge some songs were in ‘Unbreakable Hearts’, yet stripping it back lets FVK reveal themselves more and shows how much they’re still growing- how much they still have to offer.

Now onto the stand out track, ‘Like Bruises’. The first single off the album and the one which has it all. Lead in by a blinding riff that comes at you like a whirlwind, mixing together the deepest notes of a guitar with the highest, it spins around you with such aggression that you wouldn’t normally associate with Fearless Vampire Killers. You can tell this song is fueled by anger. Even the video which accompanies it tells the story of a relationship ending, and shows how your life can change from good to bad in a split second, with just one sentence, shown with the lyrics ‘Like Bruises on skin, words unspoken sink in’ and ‘All that I am is no more’. It’s actually quite hard to watch that video, and makes you want to reach out and make everything better again. Laurence almost spits out the lyrics when he sings the verses, before composing himself to sing the chorus, yet no emotion is spared as it reaches the ending of the song, as that monster of a riff comes back around to finish the song with a bang.

An audio clip of someone getting out of a car and walking to a house, knocking on a door plays before the finale of the album starts, ‘Aging Love’. It’s the song which hits home the most. There’s no glorified story surrounding it, and it’s clear what it’s about, ‘I loved you, but this can’t go on’…’Why is an aging love so wrong? You promised me we’d be forever’… It’s dark, haunting and full of pain. However the bridge goes off on a tangent, as Laurence tells us more of the story, and you have to listen hard to keep up with it all to get the full meaning. Yet this is overshadowed by the wonderfully melodic instrumental finish that wraps up the album in a huge FVK shaped bow.

This album is all about them, no dramatics, no characters, just them as they truly are. Each track is so carefully thought out and professionally produced, Fearless Vampire Killers are a band that mean business, they want to get their voices heard- now more so than ever. They put songs out that they truly believe in and I couldn’t see how anyone could doubt their creativity. The instrumentation is so technical; each riff is different, each track contains multiple drum sequences and all the harmonies are done with such precision. This band will achieve big things, I have no doubt about that. They will do it their way, and they will let nothing stop them.

Vicki Hicks

 

Bang That Gong…Glam Rock and Sexuality

Okay so this blog post is a little bit raunchy, but something I find so intriguing…have you ever read the lyrics of Glam Rock songs? Like, REALLY read them. If you have, then you will know what I mean. Some people may get a little bit of a shock, and those people are normally the ones who just idly sing a long just because it’s catchy. But now lets take a long, hard look into the lyrics of said songs, and discuss how the genre of glam rock had such a connection with sex and sexuality.

“Well you’re dirty and sweet, clad in black, don’t look back and I love you…’ “Get it on, bang a gong, get it on”– ‘Get It On by T-Rex, their biggest hit in the US. What’s it about? Sex. However, as the imagery is a little subtle (probably not in the minds of people today) most people didn’t realise the meaning of the song. “Get it on” obviously refers to getting ready to have sex, and apparently, according to the ever reliable source of Urban Dictionary, “Bang a gong” refers to hitting a womans sweet spot with…well, you get the picture. Even the grinding guitar riff in 20th Century Boy makes anyone listening to it feel alive and makes you want to grab someone and dance up against them. For some reason, Glam Rock flicks a switch in people, turning on that part of us most of us hide until the lights go off.

You can’t talk about glam rock and sexuality without mentioning David Bowie. Now, whilst he may have had a stint playing in the glam rock genre before drifting in and out of others, he really created an uproar concerning sexuality when releasing albums such as The Man Who Sold The World, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and Pin Ups. His character Ziggy Stardust, was portrayed as ‘plastic’ and ‘bisexual’, although Bowie immersed himself so much in Ziggy that his fans and the media were unsure of his true sexuality, something that at the time was a huge deal. He wore make-up, had bright coloured hair, wore skin tight feminine clothes and the media wasn’t sure whether to love it, or stick to the gender roles that were so in place at that time and put so much negativity on him for daring to be controversial. At a concert, when playing the role of Ziggy Stardust, Bowie reportedly went down on his guitarist and acted out oral, in front of the entire audience. This, clearly, did not help with calming the media’s anger and confusing concerning his sexuality. It seemed that Bowie was more interested in wanting to create a shock value, get a reaction out of people, that the high musical/lyrical talent of his songs and albums were overlooked. (Research from http://www.highbrowmagazine.com/david-bowie-and-medias-obsession-sexuality).

The New York Dolls were a band which really went straight in with the cross-dressing, androgynous element of glam rock, wearing over the top drag-queen style make up and having hair so big it made Bon Jovi’s do’s look flat as pancakes. They wore bright colours that clashed and bold patterns and platform thigh high boots. A style which would become more prominent when glam rock evolved in the 80’s. In an interview on http://chicago.gopride.com/news/interview.cfm/articleid/101881, David Johansen says that ‘there was a big celebration of sex going on’ (in the 70’s) and that he ‘never dug sexless music’. The New York Dolls song ‘Looking For A Kiss’ had one particularly sexy lyrical section,

“Well I been looking for a real.. hot.. kiss
Come on, kiss me

You think it’s bad, but you know it’s true
So why won’t you just look here baby
When I’m looking for a kiss”

Until that point it doesn’t seem like a deeply raunchy song, then it hits you and that is what brought them and other bands like them attention. Glam Rock was a genre which allowed you to explore. Explore yourself, explore others and allow you to do things for the first time that were originally looked down upon. When I think of glam rock I visualise a technicolour, glitter filled haze with smoke floating up and the sounds of T Rex in the background, and every form of sexuality being tried and accepted. I would have loved to have been around when Glam Rock was at it’s peak, so I could experience all the things that were associated with it, to see T Rex, Bowie and Suzie Quatro live… However I don’t think it would be as tastefully sexual if revived today, if anything there would be more controversy than ever, but thats another blog post.

Vicki x

Genre Claustrophobia

Okay so this is something that I have felt before, come across in other people and generally been thinking about it a lot lately. Genre Claustrophobia.

‘The feeling that you are stuck listening to one genre because you feel as though you have to due to family upbringing or social surroundings’. 

Yes I made that definition up in my head HOWEVER- it fits doesn’t it? It makes sense to me and probably does for you reading this. This idea came about to me last night, as I was listening to ‘Bang Bang’ by Jessie J. I’m not gonna lie, I LOVE that song, and it lead me to listen to a bit of Beyonce and then onto Lady Gaga. I now have a playlist on Spotify of my favourite songs from them. Now I used to really like Lady Gaga about 5/6 years ago, but felt like I shouldn’t listen to her because my Dad was (and still is) into heavy metal, death metal, hard rock etc and my friends were discovering bands such as My Chemical Romance, Green Day and Fall Out Boy. I still adore all three of those bands and got into them very quickly, which I am glad I did even though I initially listened to them to try and fit in to the big social group in my high school (even though that didn’t go well but made me a better person which I am today).

When I was first getting into them I threw out my Lady Gaga CD’s (regret that now -sad face-) and stopped listening to chart/pop music and fully immersed myself in rock/metal, going through that awkward little emo phase and wearing a whole stick of eyeliner round my eyes each day. After a while I started to feel suffocated by how I felt like I had to listen to certain bands and certain genres within rock and I fell out of love with music for a little bit. I didn’t want to keep listening to heavy metal, I got tired of hearing the same song topics and competitions of who could scream the loudest and scariest. I didn’t get a kick out of it anymore. So I delved back into punk (see post ‘Tori is a Headbanger’) and through that discovered pop punk and the band Patent Pending (here’s a little YouTube video of theirs- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6D6j_e3FmE). I view this as the moment when my tastes expanded again, as their sound was much happier, fun and easy to listen to. Plus they are AMAZING live and genuinely lovely people. I felt the genre claustrophobia start to lift a little…

My next breakout was when I watched the film Rock of Ages. Oh that film…I have a very deep love for it and have seen it many, many times and I am proud of it. It is what got me into classic rock bands such as Poison, Def Leppard, Journey and loads of other odd songs here and there. Classic rock is comforting to me, and it gets me motivated, excited about things and wakes me up in the morning. It sounds different enough than normal rock or hard rock so it doesn’t feel like I am still stuck listening to the same thing. I also have a Spotify playlist especially for classic rock and I am not ashamed in the least.

So now we come full circle back to last night. I was not in the mood for any of my usual listens, and just really wanted to hear something that sounded fresh. Dancey. Upbeat. So cue Beyonce and Lady Gaga. I felt completely free from being stuck in one place, I realised that I can listen to anything I want if it makes me happy. I have that option to switch between FrnkIero andthe Cellabration to Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ and it has made me feel invigorated and enthused about music again. We are in a society where there are still those who will judge you for not listening to what they think is the ‘right’ sort of music (i.e any band they listen to), but if you look at the bigger picture, IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO YOU LIKE IT SHOULD NOT DEFINE YOU. It should merely be one of the many interesting parts of you.

I hope this post makes sense to you and if you can relate to anything then that’s amazing. Don’t feel suffocated in one genre, its your life and you choose the things that make you happy.

Vicki x

First album

Okay so this week I’m going to talk about the first album I remember buying myself. Of course I’ve had albums bought for me as a child but I count this one as I physically picked it up and went to pay for it, under my own initiative. If that makes sense?

Anyway, my first abum was Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys by My Chemical Romance, which I bought in 2010, a few months after it came out. I first got into My Chemical Romance earlier that year, and initially didn’t like them. However this had to do with just starting high school, and trying to fit into the popular groups, therefore convincing myself I liked pop music/chart music…which I knew deep down I didn’t. Then Dad started to listen to them, playing Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and The Black Parade on a regular basis, and I gradually began to like them. I remember the music video for ‘Na Na Na’ being released, and after watching it I said, ‘Oi Dad! That weird band you like have released a new video!’. After listening to that song and a few others, I grew to love the album and MCR in general.

The upbeat sound of Danger Days, with its electronic elements, commentary by Dr Death-Defying (aka Steve Righ? from Mindless Self Indulgence), and strong concept and story-line, all combined to make this (in my opinion) a perfect album. ‘Summertime’ was even played at my Nanna’s funeral, and now I listen to that song with reflection and memories of her. It’s pretty emotional. What I loved was that MCR still included an element of humour in this album, which is prevalent in the last track, ‘Vampire Money’. Everyone kept wanting them to make a song for the ‘Twilight’ franchise, which Gerard Way was not interested in, so made an anti-twilight song highlighting that people wanted them to make the song just to get the money.

Danger Days made me start to love music and get a real passion for it, giving me a whole new genre to explore, instead of forcing myself to listen to the commercially churned out chart music I thought I had to listen to. It lead to me going through different phases in the next few years, discovering new bands and following MCR in the last few years of their journey, even their World Contamination Tour, which I will write about in the next blog.

Vicki x

Tori is a Headbanger’

Hey, happy Tuesday!

Time for another story…or I guess an overview of more of a precise genre of music that was played throughout the whole of my childhood, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that genre is Punk.

Firstly, you’re probably asking yourself if punk is a suitable genre for a child to be brought up on. The answer is no, but my parents did it anyway. As I was so young I didn’t understand why the Ramones were talking about sniffing glue (or what glue sniffing ACTUALLY was) or why the Sex Pistols had so much beef with our Queen, but nevertheless I loved it. I took more interest into how fast the songs were, and how upbeat they sounded, singing along not caring that the Sex Pistols ‘Pretty Vacant’ was also created so they could say ‘c*nt’ on live TV and I was in fact saying that word. As I grew older I respected what John Lydon, Sid Vicious etc tried to do, which was to bring attention to the failing Government, and how dysfunctional society was becoming during the 70’s, as the media kept trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, yet it was the creative ones, such as the Sex Pistols, who saw through that.

The Ramones…I have nothing but love, praise and admiration for them. They are a band who have been a constant throughout every year, they are always played at some point, always mentioned in a conversation. The love comes from my Dad, who has pretty much every album they made, including anthology, and their documentary ‘Too Tough To Die’. In middle school I was the only one with a Ramones t-shirt, and remember singing the chorus to ‘You’re Gonna Kill That Girl’ in the middle of the playground. I even had a couple of their songs played at Prom, which I was pretty proud of. One day I hope to see Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg live, and hear those precious songs played by an actual Ramone. That would mean everything. My favourite album has to be Rocket To Russia, starting with Cretin Hop it just maintains that pure, raw punk the Ramones were known for, before they got signed by Phil Spector and he changed their style almost completely for most of End of The Century, using his infamous ‘Wall of Sound’ in songs such as their cover of ‘Baby, I Love You’.

(When retail shops brought out t-shirts, jumpers, any item they could find, with the Ramones (and various other bands) logo on them, I honestly got very angry. The people buying them and wearing them didn’t know who these icons of punk were! Their logo was even printed on flower print crop tops! I found it quite insulting, and disgraceful that these places were using a band so treasured in the music industry just to bring in extra money. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked…)

Punk is a genre, with its simple 4/4 timing, fast tempo and distorted guitars, which will always be close to my heart. It’s a genre that you are able to play when you are feeling happy, and energetic, or sad and angry. It’s a genre which, hopefully, will never die out.

Vicki x

Hello world!

This is your very first post. 

Happy blogging!

Why thank you, well seeing as this is my first post I guess I’d better introduce myself a little…

Hi I’m Vicki, Victoria, whichever you prefer- I wont correct you I’m not fussy- and I’m using this place to write any random things I have to say about music. Music is something that is a very huge part of who I am, so huge in fact that I have to listen to at least 3 songs when I wake up in the morning, otherwise I’m not mentally prepared to deal with anyone.

I was brought up surrounded by music, as my parents were bikers who went to see bands all through the 70’s and 80’s, from the Ramones to Motorhead, Hawkwind to Cradle of Filth, they saw pretty much everyone who bands today now cite as their influences. Their regular haunt was West Runton Pavilion, where they saw Iron Maiden (before Bruce Dickinson), Blue Oyster Cult and The Damned, before the venue was sadly demolished in 1986.

The first album I remember actually putting on and playing (I must have been about 6 or 7?) was Guns N Roses ‘The Spaghetti Incident’. I loved that album, and Mum always used to tell me about the time she travelled all the way up to Milton Keynes to see Guns N Roses, something Dad still gets jealous about today. She said that she rang him up to tell him about the gig and he just said ‘Who’s this?’. I also remember Appetite for Destruction being played a lot, and now I realise how that was bad parenting, considering the last song is Rocket Queen, where Axl Rose included a recording of himself having sex with a hooker in with the solo. I guess its good I can’t remember that…maybe they go to the stereo in time to turn it off?

I have so many more stories about music, from the first album I bought, how my tastes have changed, when I first got into the main bands I listen to, and of course about the may gigs I have been to. They will all be told here, and I may even include album reviews and gig reviews just to mix it up a little.

Vicki x