These Posts Go To Eleven! (The Pilot Column)

Off the typewriter (er, laptop); Pete’s going to totally regret this decision…

As you can more or less guess from the title of my posts, I’m the resident music geek here at BigDamnGeeks.com.  The abridged version of my story:  I’m the Founder of Twisted Cadence Audio Production in Orlando, FL (shameless plug: check!).  While most of my work at TC revolves around production sound for advertising and television/film, my first love has always been music.  Having been in bands throughout high school and college, with each start-up/break-up, I’ve learned to appreciate a different genre, forcing me into that “well-rounded” category.

Now, what exactly can you expect from my writing?  To be blunt; I haven’t the slightest clue!  I figure the “throw crap against the wall and see what sticks” technique might be best.  With that in mind, you as a reader have the ability to tell me what you like and what sucks (keep it to the postings and not me as a person, as Dr. Finklestein, my therapist, is booked solid for a while).  Leave comments here or at Twitter (@TwistedCadence or @JRizzle86).

Now that I’m done shamelessly promoting myself, let’s get down to business!  On today’s agenda:

1)      Spotify has potential, but until they get the approval of all labels, it’s going to alienate music fans.

2)      The new Trivium album is a mixed bag of goodies, but in a completely heavy way.

3)      Five singles reviewed in five words.

4)      Live track of the week.

 

Spotify:  The greatest thing since the last music sharing service…

As a proud owner of a Motorola cell phone, I was able to get an invite to Spotify.  Having playtested with it for about a month, I can honestly say it’s got some potential.  Being able to throw together playlists and allow other fans to collaborate is pretty sick.  For example, I’ve been assembling what I like to consider a history of metal playlist.  I put in some of the basic artists/songs (Dio, Megadeth, Slayer, Pantera) to assemble the bare bones.  Since then, I’ve had people throw in everything from Nintendocore (HORSE the Band) to instrumental tracks (Levi/Werstler).  Since its inception (admittedly only a few hours ago), the playlist has gone from twenty songs to over 90.

My biggest gripe, however, is with all these record labels removing their artists from the service.  The ones doing this tend to be metal-oriented labels (Metal Blade, Century Media), who don’t get much in terms of exposure outside of the niche demographic they serve (angry metalheads of all continents). I could understand this if Spotify were a 100% free format.  In its current US incarnation, the “free” version is chock full of advertising and is restricted to online-only, meaning no streaming to phones and no offline playlists.  Basically, you’re bricked to the computer.

The subscription versions obviously allow for more freedom, which is where these labels get their cut on distribution.  Ladies and gentlemen, I have a compromise!  For those labels who are not happy with free distribution on the “free” version, why not take a note from the iTunes store format and allow for 30 second previews of songs?  You get the exposure you want, but force the listener to either subscribe to listen to the full tracks OR go buy the album in stores.

As a former broke college student who used a file-sharing client (rhymes with Schmit-torrent), I get younger fans’ hesitation to drop coin on something like this.  That being said, who is really going to put up a fight over $5 a month?  That’s one less trip to Starbucks, folks.

I think we all agree the current music business system is at the point where the antiquated ways aren’t going to work.  Hopefully services like Spotify (as well as Napster, Rhapsody, et. al.)  will at least pave the way to a better model.

 

Trivium’s “In Waves” has a little bit of everything, nails most of it

Now that I’ve had the album for about a month (more importantly, now that I have a place to express my thoughts on said album), I can really sink my teeth into this one…

Orlando’s golden boys of the metal scene, Trivium, swung for the fences on their third studio release for Roadrunner.  Now with the financial backing of Warner Bros. (and the rhythmic backing of Nick Augusto on drums), the end result is a track list that touches on every subgenre available in the metal world.

Coming out of the gate with the title track, you get a much more refined version of the brand of metalcore Trivium has been known for, going all the way back to “Ascendancy.”  Corey Beaulieau’s soloing chops have always been pretty epic, but the rhythm skills shine here.

Initially, when this single came out, I imagined this would set the bar for what to expect from the rest of the tracks.  Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, as I find most metalcore songs are bland and lack vision (a rant for another post).

Tracks like “Dusk Dismantled” and “Drowning In Slow Motion” are arguably the heaviest tunes I’ve heard from these guys.  Matt Heafy’s voice has truly come along over the years, knowing the right balance of screaming and singing.  The opening riffs of “Built To Fall” sound like they come from the Dimebag Darrell school of riffage, making way for the signature catchy-as-all-hell chorus these guys have become known for.

In a first for the group, the interlude of “Caustic Are The Ties That Bind” (yes, these guys still have a way of writing long-ass song titles) features lead vocals by bassist, Paolo Gregoletto.  On a track that sounds like it could be an homage to modern-day Iron Maiden, Gregoletto’s voice has come a long way from his years with Ft. Lauderdale-based metal outfit, Metal Militia.   (Sidenote: also, as a former bassist, I’m always happy to hype up another bass player getting their due!)

The award for favorite song, however, goes to “Black.”   While songs on their last album, “Shogun,” tended to be a big pissing contest in terms of musician proficiency, songs like “Black” are simple, to the point, and still heavy.

As long as Jethro Tull doesn’t put out anything for the next few months, I can’t imagine these guys NOT getting a Grammy nod for “Best Metal Performance.”  It’s commercially viable enough to catch the attention of the old farts who vote on the damn thing, but holds true enough to not be called “sell-outs” by the metal community.

 

Five Singles Reviewed In Five Words

Before I test this idea out,  let me just say that I try to listen to these with an open mind.  I will not be saying simply that a song sucks, because the list of artists I think that suck (Bieber, Ke$ha, etc.) would overload the server at BDG.  With that in mind…

“Bait” by Wale: Fist pumping to the max.

“Yellow Belly” by Thrice:  Litigation by Stone Temple Pilots.

“Holocene” by Bon Iver:  Sweet acoustic with haunting vocals.

“Honey Bunny” by Girls:  Fantastic Pulp Fiction-referenced tune.

“Dancin’ Away With My Heart” by Lady Antebellum: This is a country group?

 

Live Track of the Week

Another thing I’m going to test out with this column is giving credit to great live performances.  I was inspired by a story I was told by a friend of mine about the band, Protest The Hero.  I had always thought they were pretty great on the studio stuff I had listened to, until the friend asked me, “Are you fuckin’ high? These guys are TERRIBLE live!”  I went and found a video of a live performance of theirs and it was true: they did, in fact, suck.  The songs were fine, but they just couldn’t pull off anything they did in the studio (meaning the label dropped some serious cash on studio time).

This begged the question:  what groups are good live?

The first one I’m going to go with is this version of “Stockholm Syndrome” by Muse.  I’ve always been a fan of their studio work and most bands wouldn’t be able to pull off their work live.  They talk the talk and walk the walk, so to speak.  Without further ado, here’s the clip:

Well, that concludes this first (of many) edition of “These Posts Go To Eleven.”  Feel free to leave comments or shoot me a tweet or two and let me know what you think!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *