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Howdy kids, let’s talk about all of the cool stuff happening in and around the world of music, shall we? Let’s Round Up.
Thank god when asked about his favorite songs off of Master of Puppets, Kirk Hammett listed Orion as one of his top two. If there’s any song that personifies the sadness of
losing Cliff Burton, it’s that bass line.
At The Gates debuted a new live video
Confined Spaces is a new grind band who are releasing a demo tape very soon. They just dropped some new tracks.
If you’re coming to Austin for SXSW check these folks out:
Andrew Adkins has some new tunes out. If you’re in the mood for some funky, mountainous stuff with a lot of attitude, heart and soul, this dude will quench the thirst.
Nov 20, 2018
by Robert Dean
What’s popping in the world of music lately, kids? It’s the holidays, so music news is slow, but here’s what I’ve got.
Let’s get to it.
RIP to the late, great Roy Clark. I remember watching a whole lot of him on Hee-Haw as a kid. Definitely a loss for country music.
Kacey Musgraves won Album of The Year at the CMA’s, which is fucking amazing. I know Chris Stapleton released a banger, but Kacey deserved every inch of that win. She’s not playing the CMA game and has continually done her own thing with a refusal to be a Nashville commodity. So big ups to Texas’ best.
Vein has a new video out, yet again proving those dudes are the best new band in hardcore.
Since High on Fire isn’t on their tour, they’re writing new music, so that’s a good use of their time. There’s never enough Matt Pike jams in the world, toe or not.
Dude from All That Remains was potentially murdered. Talk about a plot twist.
Metallica donated $100K to help California battle the wildfires. Karma points right there, dudes.
Mumford and Sons dropped a new record. Surprise, it's garbage. Rolling Stone even dogged it.
That’s all I got. Stay weird.
Jul 18, 2018
Feb 14, 2017
by Robert Dean
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re into music way deeper than the average bear. You’ve got a closet full of band shirts, and when someone is looking for new music, you practically wet your shorts. We dig through crates for vinyl, schedule vacations around shows, and more than once, we’ve asked for concert tickets as a Christmas gift.
Music nerds bond like glue over our obsession, but it also drives stakes between camps of people: like those who argue who the best Black Flag singer was, or should Dio-era Sabbath be called Sabbath or Heaven & Hell? (Ozzy is Black Sabbath, folks.)
When you go HAAM on music geekology, pop music is a sticky subject. It took everyone forever to realize it, but Justin Timberlake is one talented SOB. If you love music, it doesn’t take a genius to admit that dude is a once in a lifetime performer. I’d go as far and say JT is our generation’s answer to Frank Sinatra. He’s got the chops, can write (Sinatra never wrote songs), can play, and most importantly can back up this argument. But, this ain’t about Just Timberlake. It’s about Lady Gaga.
As a species of dork who loves to argue about the finer tenants of Patsy Cline’s career, or way Sarah Vaughn is a lesser known treasure, we need to embrace the fact that Lady Gaga is awesome.
Look, I know you’re about to throw the computer or phone in the trash over my inflammatory statement. This is one of those times when you have to set aside the “fuck pop music hat” just for a second. In a world of trite garbage that’s as morally infectious as whatever’s on the radio, you’ve gotta give it up to Gaga.
She’s named after a Queen song, did a Bowie tribute, absolutely destroyed an Oscar performance of The Sound of Music and has recorded a duets record with Tony Bennett. What’s Britney Spears been up to lately?
Is Lady Gaga’s pop stuff good? It’s not my cup of tea, but what is admirable, is the lengths Lady Gaga goes to foster inclusivity, to push the boundaries of what’s allowed, vs. what’s accepted in popular culture. While some folks get caught up on a meat dress, there’s something to be said about a performer who’s donated, and worked in the trenches to help kids find homes when they’ve been kicked out for their life choices.
Lady Gaga hasn’t played by the rules that her peers do, she’s like a relic from the 1980’s in her style morphs into things, and assumes personalities, but always remaining her own. She’s not swinging around in a chair, trying to hawk things ala The Voice, but instead, she went on tour and played dive bars to get her chops back up after a lackluster album. Lady Gaga didn’t get discovered because she was in a halter top and some exec decided guys wanted to fuck her, and girls wanted to be her – instead, she slugged away at NYU, and then dropped out to front a Led Zeppelin cover band.
While she made a lot of statements about social causes and led by the example of what artists should to do lend their platform to others, it was Till it Happens to You that put Lady Gaga on a different plain than the rest of her pop peers. The depth of that song, exercising demons in such a powerful way, left a trail – one asking if we weren’t paying enough attention to an artist who was visibly taking risks against commercial success. You just don’t drop a song about date rape and expect nothing to come from it. That takes guts.
Gaga should be on your list of saints because let’s be honest – she saved Metallica’s ass on the Grammy’s. When Hetfield’s mic when MIA – Gaga stepped up, sexy stripper dancing and all. She knew the song. Not, like a half-assed version, either. She knew the words, the cadence. Her favorite band is Iron Maiden – it can’t be a far stretch that jumping on stage with Metallica wouldn’t be a lifetime moment for her, amongst her many success.
Jan 21, 2017
Nov 25, 2016
By Robert Dean
Metallica has a new record out, Hardwired to Self-Destruct and people are losing their shit. And for once, people losing their shit about something non-political feels like slipping into a warm bath of goodness. So, you know what? Bring on the four horsemen – we need them way more than the awkward conversations about the “Alt-right” or emails, or whatever was trending around the Thanksgiving table yesterday.
Metallica has always had a weird place in social and cultural history, in that they’re like the Beatles or Stones: they no longer own their allure or mystery – we do. Metallica at this point are like Stephen King, even if you don’t think your worlds cross over, there’s easy money saying they do. The people, their fans, really everyone, has a Metallica story, a frame of reference, or at least a supposed notion of what the band is and represents – that’s very hard to do in the world we live in today, and the flash in the pan celebrity culture.
The reason people are reacting to the new album is that it’s exactly what people have wanted for twenty years. For over two decades, Metallica has maintained a loyal fan base that worships them, but mainstream adoration, where they belong wasn’t happening due to their self-inflicted artistic choices.
Metallica belongs on the covers of magazines, they’re one of the few bands who are relevant in a world where more kids are playing music on laptops than in garages. Without that omnipresence of James Hetfield making it look like anyone can do his job, a lot of those possible converts are left with some dickhead throwing cake over his turntables, or some dork rapping about thrift store shit.
People are starved for good rock and roll that’s accessible because most people are too lazy to hunt for the good stuff, hence why Luke Bryan has a career. But, Metallica takes fast, blazing fuck your rules and package it so a fifteen-year-old and a fifty-year-old and share the same angst, the same gut punch. The world is opening their arms of Hardwired to Self-Destruct because it represents a notion of self-ownership, and pays off in ways that are too big to gauge. People who like heavy music or just the sound of a guitar cranked through an amplifier to deafening levels have a thing with Metallica.
I don’t begrudge Metallica for the Load/Re-Load stuff. You shouldn’t either. They were a band trapped in their image. What do you do when you’ve written one of the biggest albums of all time? You can’t follow it up. Anything you release will pale in comparison. So, they went AWOL artistically and wrote a record reflective of their tastes, their current passions – they were men in their thirties who were just a little sick of trying to recreate a style of music they helped solidify into an art form.
People evolve, we grew in and out of phases, but the cultural touchstones in our lives circle the wagons more than once. When I was around eleven, I discovered Metallica. I was prime. It was 1992, and they were massive. I dove in headfirst; I had their Binge and Purge boxset, all the records, the VHS tapes, I had a bazillion t-shirts, and a whole wall dedicated to my heroes. But, I was also listening to punk, discovering hardcore, digging deeper into metal. By the time I was fourteen, Metallica was super lame because of bands like Pantera, Sepultura, Black Flag, or ironically, The Misfits existed. Metallica wasn’t that. They couldn’t hang with The Great Southern Trendkill, or whatever I was into – they were writing blues songs with Marianne Faithfull droning along, or trying to go country rock a time or two. I didn’t get it; we didn’t get what they were trying to do.
And it’s there where this all lies: we never got them. Because they’re evolving, emotional human beings that aren’t here for our carnal pleasure. Metallica defined music, abandoned that music to try different things, and never looked back. We chastised them for not being the Metallica playing Orion, but doing stuff like Some Monster – instead, we watched a psychological experiment when four dudes create what interests them, and that’s not a bad thing. Looking back on it, Load and Re-Load aren’t bad records; they’re just different – they’re a step away from what was expected of the band.
Following that period, Metallica found themselves looking back in the mirror, rediscovering the music they helped forge. Metal wouldn’t have survived without Metallica, and to think otherwise is foolish. Once, they had the bad vibes out of their systems; they could slowly figure out the pieces again by instead of running from their ghosts, but embracing them. We got St. Anger, which wasn’t a great record, but showed the band was thinking, considering and interested in heavy metal again. Then came Death Magnetic, which minus a horrid mastering job, isn’t that bad, it’s just a watered down, trying too hard version of the band.
Hardwired changes everything.
The Metallica you were sure were long gone were dormant, were waiting silently somewhere in the depths. The songs feel old, they feel right, and most importantly, they feel genuine. Over the last decade, instead of trying to run with the pack of music that’s evolved into insane directions they could never compete with nor replicate, Metallica have accepted their position in the world of heavy metal – they’re the kings, the band that cannot be touched. You can love Megadeth or Slayer till the cows come home, but they didn’t write Battery or to wit, Enter Sandman.
Hardwired to Self Destruct doesn’t feel trite, or slapped together. It’s a cohesive piece of music that captures those glorious riffs as they’re meant to be heard – loud and without a sense of civility. The songs are fueled by a new age, new technology, and the human crisis driving it all. We’re not getting some new fangled version of a band that’s cool trying to sound old. Instead, we’re getting the rare treat of a band thirty plus years into the game, catching lightning once again. By this time in most bands careers they’re putting out jack off sessions, no one cares to hear, and no one buys.
We take this record so personally because it feels like a coming home, an affirmation of what we want out of our heroes, out of ourselves – we see the band many of us growing up on reclaiming that thing we felt we lost a long time ago. It feels good and feels right. Maybe rock and roll is getting gearing up for another wave, and it’d be nice, thats for sure. There’s a climate for snottiness and a middle finger at authority right now. A few months ago, I bought my first Metallica shirt in over twenty years. I gotta admit, it felt weird having the kid bag my groceries tell me that my shirt ruled. He fist bumped me as a token that we belong to the same tribe. I can live with that now that there are a few grays in my beard these days.
That’s the magic of what Metallica are capable of: they’re reigniting something old, and something pure and Hardwired to Self-Destruct unlocks what we’ve been craving. Old dudes are happy, long hairs are happy, and suddenly, it’s cool to put on Blackened in the bar, and it just feels right. I hope that kid at the grocery store enjoys this more than anyone.