Category: Music


Christmas With the In-Laws

Wow, less than a week until Christmas, where has the time gone?  No matter, it’s here and that means crazy preparation leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners and obligatory encounters with the in-laws.  The second part stuck with me, so instead of helping out, I decided, with my friend Devon, to write a Christmas song.

What’s there to write about these days with so many years of Christmas songs already established?  Well, something real: “Christmas With the In-Laws.”

Everyone has those crazy in-laws and we all know what they’re going to do when they show up.  This song basically takes that concept and depending on the line of the song, either exaggerates or simply notes what various family members do.

Of course, everyone has their own stories to tell, so feel free to leave them in the comment section below or on the YouTube page for the lyric video.  That’s right, there’s a lyric video, be sure to check it out:

Merry Christmas everyone!

If you would like to check out more music from myself or Devon, be sure to check out the following links:

For more music from Devon: http://www.reverbnation.com/trafficandtransit

And more from Art: http://www.reverbnation.com/artsarnese

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Time for a Best of 2012 list, here we go!

Movie: Les Miserablesles miserables

I wasn’t sure what to expect when going into this movie, but after seeing it twice now I can honestly say it is the most emotionally moving movie I may have ever seen.  I say this because I’ve known the music and have seen it live on stage before but not until the movie have I been as moved.  At first I was disappointed when songs were cut and some were shortened, but once I watched the movie I didn’t feel like anything was missing (though, why was Eponine not in the last song like she’s supposed to be?).  I fear that alone may have given away too much for anyone who has not watched the movie, so I will simply say to see this movie, even if you don’t like musicals you should give this a chance.  Also, Russell Crowe isn’t nearly as bad as people say he is and Hugh Jackman arguably has the lowest point when he has to try to tackle “Bring Him Home” (true, it’s not an easy song to sing, but I find it best just to go with it, which I did the second time and it was less noticeable, which is good advice for anyone who knows Les Miserables, don’t go into this movie trying to compare it with the stage version or you will miss out on some of the emotional impact).  And Samantha Barks as Eponine, simply amazing.

So, brace yourself for one of the most emotional yet brilliant movies of the year.

Trailer, possible spoilers for Eponine and Marius:

Television Show: Doctor Who

Why Doctor Who would be  a good question, after all the first five episodes of the latest series have been average to bad.  However, the Christmas Special overshadowed all the nonsense threads that were never resolved throughout the last two and a half seasons.  I’ll just pretend like the unsolved arcs never happened, and that’s mainly due to Jenna-Louise Coleman as the new companion, Clara _____ _____ (I fear saying her full name will create a good amount of spoilers).  Unlike pretty much every companion since the reboot (except Donna), she has a personality (really, how many more times could show runner Steven Moffat copy and past Amy slapping the Doctor and River saying the same lines over and over?).  She’s fun and a lot flirty, but more importantly she’s smart and not afraid to challenge or be challenged by the Doctor.  Speaking of the Doctor, I hope he continues to be more serious throughout the season, as he started to become far too goofy and was more of a bumbling fool than he should ever be.  I say bring on the rest of series 7, after just one episode the show may as well now be considered a reboot of the reboot.  The show feels alive again, and I’m glad Moffat was able to look past prior mistakes and hopefully start with something fresh and new.

Album: Silverthorn

Bombastic, epic, and emotional, that is Silverthorn.  After the departure of lead singer Roy Khan it was going to be interesting to see how Tommy Karevik would be as Kamelot’s new singer (for those who do not know, Kamelot is a power metal band from Florida).  The album marks the band’s tenth, and first with their third singer, Karevik.  Formerly of progressive metal band Seventh Wonder, it was no secret how diverse his voice is, and with it he brings a new dimension to Kamelot.  With what seems to be common with new singers, the album tends to play it safe with him, but after listening to the ballad, “Song For Jolee” it is clear there is a lot of potential for their next album.  Silverthorn is a concept album that admittedly is a bit difficult to follow, but luckily there is a short story book provided with the special edition that helps clarify the songs. Musically, it is their best album since The Black Halo, which was three albums ago.  Rather than just being another album, Silverthorn feels more like a rebirth of the band.  They have clearly started on a new path and have shown a continuing growth and maturation in their music.  To call it a metal album is unfair, because when one says metal it is easy for people to assume Metallica or Black Sabbath, but this is more, for as the band has grown so has the difficulty of categorizing them, so I’ll leave it by saying if you are a fan of film scores or Tran-Siberian Orchestra then you too should be interested in this album.

Notable guest singers include Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist), who have both appeared with Kamelot on tour.

Kamelot Live with Elize Ryd performing “Veritas” from Silverthorn:

Pop Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen

While this year had Taylor Swift whining about some boyfriend again, Katy Perry going on and on about being divorced, Rhianna pretending to sing, Nicki Minaj continuing to try and stay in everyone’s mind, and Lady Gaga… well I don’t know what she was doing, which is probably a good thing as it means she was being productive and working on a new album.  However, in the mix of all of this there was Carly Rae Jepsen came out of nowhere with “Call Me Maybe.”  She’s not sparking any controversies, isn’t riding the same old gimmick, she’s just releasing fun singles from an almost solid album, Kiss (the second half falters some, and Justin Bieber should not have been on the album).  Her newest single, “This Kiss” has a stronger dance feel and continues her fun image.  It is refreshing to have a pop star who is not involved in a scandal or some sort or switching boyfriends every other week.  I for one am glad none of her slow songs have yet to become a single, as her upbeat songs are always fun to hear on the radio.  Here’s to hoping she continues to have success in 2013.

Video Game: Far Cry 3

This was a tough choice, as there really weren’t many standout games of 2012.  Sure, there were big titles like Mass Effect 3 and Assassin’s Creed 3, and while I highly enjoyed both of them, neither captured me as much as I had hoped.  Far Cry 3 (FC3) really does feel like the advertisements say, and that is a modern era set Skyrim.  Hear me out, Skyrim is very light on RPG elements and basically just lets you update a few skills here and there, which is essentially the same as FC3.  What really impresses me about FC3 is how much better it is than FC2, not to mention the gorgeous looking tropical island setting (and I’m only playing it on the 360, I can only imagine how nice the PC version looks).  Having hunting serve a purpose is also nice, as Assassin’s Creed 3 has it there for really no reason and so does Red Dead Redemption.  If you want a world with a surprisingly good amount of lore, solid voice acting (well, the main character whines a lot but the rest are very good), a nice collection of guns, and the best sand box since last year’s Skyrim, FC3 is the game for you.  Also, the last battle sequence has the most over-the-top music, you’ll know when you hear it.

Trailer, note there is a good amount of language and gun play involved here, but it is a mature rated game:

 

Well, for the sake of being short I will wrap up my 2012 review here.  Yes, a lot of other things have happened, but chances are they’re somewhere throughout the rest of the blog or aren’t worth mentioning (i.e. why are there three Hobbit movies or the Eagles season which should have been 1-15, but I’ll ignore that).

So here’s to 2013, let’s see what awaits us this year, which having a 2013 should be enough as the world was supposed to end not too long ago.

 

Have A Merry Christmas!

I haven’t posted in a long time, but whatever, I’m back to wish everyone a merry Christmas!  To do so I’ll leave you all with an original Christmas song for the geek in all of us:

Think about it, I’m sure you know people who are anti-TV and anti-video games, with the latter being more common.  They’ll argue these things ruin your mind either by having you zone out and ignore the world around you or turn you into some sort of loser or evil person.  What’s the alternative then?  Well, usually they like to refer to the good old days.  I’m assuming this means reading a book.  Reading a book offers nowhere near the amount of creativity needed when playing a video game.  There is no trial and error, which means no learning.  Yes, you can learn through video games (team work, communication skills, and with games like Portal 2 you have to critically think to solve puzzles), and you know what, they also must be doing something right, just look at their popularity.  I’m not saying books are gone, as I like a good read, I’m simply saying there’s no reason to say video games are evil.

As for TV, well I’ll just say it doesn’t destroy your mind as critics like to say.  Granted, I don’t think watching the Kardashians or plastic housewives of whatever will be beneficial, but there is more to TV than that nonsense.  I recently watched all of Battlestar Galactica (I know, I’m late to the party) and the ending was horrible.  However, this allowed me to realize how connected the show had me to the characters that made me appalled by the ending.  Likewise, Doctor Who has story arcs spanning over multiple seasons, allowing viewers to analyze the episodes and communicate through online forums.  See the pattern here?

These new forms of media are connecting people in ways never before possible.  Sure, the new generations may not care about Shakespeare (who I think is overrated) and Great Expectations, but does that matter?  Honestly, I couldn’t care less about Pip and Miss Havisham, there was no connection there.  I don’t care if they’re deemed classics by scholars, that’s all yesterday’s news.  This leads me to my next point, why are some things considered not as good as others because they’re not classics?

Classic Rock, what in the world makes it classic?  What, it’s old, is that it?  Seriously, listening to Robert Plant wail into a microphone and Jimmy Page sloppily play guitar is not my idea of classic.  How many times can they play the same songs over and over on the radio?  Lynyrd Skynyrd are nothing special, but they don’t go away.  The same goes for newer bands such as Metallica.  I’m sorry, but when I walk into a music store I don’t want to hear the same old nonsense over and over.  Somehow I don’t think in the 70s people were listening to music from the 30s and saying it was the best thing ever (though, I’d argue that there’s a good amount of music from the 30s and 40s that’s better than what’s considered Classic Rock).  Don’t say it’s because there isn’t any good new music, because there is.  Just look at Paloma Faith, Imelda May, Sonata Arctica, Within Temptation, Arjen Lucassen, and so many more.  The problem is, the current generation doesn’t listen to the radio, so they pretty much have to fill it with Classic Rock, and as a result older generations don’t think anything has happened since then.  And I will seriously argue that Lady Gaga is a better musician, singer, and songwriter than the majority of the Classic Rock artists, she’s simply doing shock-rock, just as has been done for many years from Alice Cooper to David Bowie and many more.

Since we’re discussing music, why is metal so bad?  I listen to metal a lot, and I have to say, when listening to a song such as A Sailorman’s Hymn by Kamelot, Say My Name by Within Temptation, Swanheart by Nightwish, and Under Your Tree by Sonata Arctica (possibly the most emotional song about the death of a pet dog in all of music) I don’t see how anyone can say metal is just a bunch of people making loud music and screaming into a microphone.  Sure, there is metal like that, but the reason I hate saying I’m a metal fan is because people think that’s all metal is.  Sure, I may have put down Classic Rock, but I also acknowledge the good bands such as Styx, Queen, and Pink Floyd amongst others.  I’m just tired of people saying all new music is horrible and that Classic Rock is the best.  The same kind of applies for metal, as many don’t know symphonic metal and power metal exist.  I just found a new band last year, Amaranthe, and I can almost guarantee if they had more exposure people would become fans.  It’s a shame that metal is still looked at as either the music of evil or still associated with the 80s.

Essentially, what I’m saying is we need to expand our entertainment minds.  Sure, none of these things are pressing issues, but they’re definitely the easiest of issues that people can be open to.  I’m not asking for massive social change, just a bit of open-mindedness to basic forms of new and old entertainment.

 

Hey all, I put together a compilation of songs that will be featured on an upcoming EP from my symphonic metal project, Summer Solstice.  However, I currently have no singer, meaning every song has to be put on hold.  Other than that I am waiting to get my amplifier fixed, as I’m stuck using a small Line 6 until then.  Still, I figured I’d show you all what I’ve been up to and I hope you enjoy it.  If you don’t then as always, constructive criticism is much appreciated.

Do people in South Jersey like metal?  I’d almost argue no, and that is part of the problem.  What is the problem?  Roughly, the problem is the lack of support for these bands.  Yes, when going to a show one may see a new band with tons of “fans.”  Well, after going to a decent amount of shows I hate to say it, but most of the time they’re just friends of the band.  Friends who may not even like metal, but may have felt bad if they didn’t go to at least one show.  Then reality sinks in.  Show after show the “fanbase” gets smaller and smaller.  Yes, there will be those few faithful friends, and even a handful of real fans, which is great.

Just a few weeks ago I went to a local show in Atlantic City to see Shattered Sanctity (a local band), and it was kind of a weird show.  It was in a bar with a section set up for musical acts.  The genre of the night was metal, so I had mixed feelings about the show.  On one hand I love metal, but on the other hand I don’t love when shows end up having 3 bands that sound exactly the same.  Well, the metal loving side of me actually had a pretty decent time.  However, it seemed the other metal band’s members didn’t share, or really didn’t even attempt to share the same open-mindedness (now, some members of bands did, but for the most part they didn’t, and this is for nearly every local show I’ve been to).  Making things worse, the first band was nearly an hour late.  Come on, metal already has mixed preconceptions, why would you want to feed into some people’s bad image of the genre?  Plus, how will you get fans if you don’t try to be respectable to them by playing when you say you will, and in turn throwing off everyone else’s set?

I was also disappointed when very few band members would watch other bands, because at the very least at least fellow metal fans would be able to give bands new fans.  Now that that’s done, I would like to address the original question:

Do people in South Jersey like metal?

I think they do.  However, I don’t think mainstream society knows what metal is.  People seem to assume metal is either Iron Maiden and Metallica and that’s it or it’s Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides.  This simply isn’t true.  Metal has a ton of subgenres often having their own subgenres.  It’s hard to blame people for not knowing this, as Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Bride knockoffs (well, BVB is a knockoff of many bands) run rampant through the area.  In all honesty, while I listen to post-hardcore here and there, it is easy to see why it would easily turn people away from the genre (how long can you listen to nothing but screaming and autotune, or in the case of BVB, playing too much with an image and one type of fanbase rather than simply making music).

At the same time, we don’t need anymore Iron Maiden and Metallica knock offs.  That era is over.  Sure, it’s cool in middle and high school because kids are just finding metal then and their parents have those albums, but why do people rarely progress to the modern era?

So, I just spent some time saying how the scene is bad, but now I’ll say what I think can help it:

  • There needs to be more originality.  Friends can only go to so many shows for however many of their friends are in bands that sound nearly the same.  Be different, give a reason for your friends to come back, but more importantly for the people walking out of a venue to stop in their tracks and stay for something that sounds unique.  Not everyone will stop (as some people aren’t metal fans) but I wouldn’t be surprised of the real fans stopped if they heard some gothic, power, doom, symphonic, melodic, or female fronted metal (that isn’t an Evanescence ripoff) in a sea of screamers that populate the current scene.  Or do something daring: do what you want, don’t follow a genre note for note.
  • Change your set list.  Nobody wants to see/hear the same songs played each show.  I know it is hard at first, but try to have at least one song that switches up with every show.  This will also allow your real fans to say “oh man, I really wanted to hear [insert name of other song], that’s my favorite one.”
  • Support other bands.  Watch their set.  Connect with them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  Building social connections allows bands to promote other bands, which leads to my next point.
  • The scene needs to be tight knit.  There shouldn’t be any bands not helping out others because it’s not the exact same type of metal they play.  With such a weak scene, bands need to do as much as they can to unite.
  • Respect your fans.  This can be done while on stage by talking to them or after your set when you’re going to watch the next band.
  • Now, this one is more based on what I believe and others will say just the opposite, but I don’t particularly believe in pushing demo discs or anything of the sort on people.  Simply say after the set that discs or any other merchandise are available, and where/how it can be attained.  By pushing it on people it may seem a bit pushy, and nobody likes a pushy person.
  • This last one may throw people off, but hear me out.  Go to shows and avidly support bands outside your genre.  After all, they’re still just a bunch of local people playing music.  Show them respect and chances are they’ll do the same for you.

There you have it, I’ll probably think of more things to add to this list, but I think it’s a brief analysis of the scene and a basis of what can be done about it.  Sure, not everyone will end up being a metal fan, but right now the scene needs as much help as it can get.

I believe all music fans, deep down, will find they enjoy all types of music (to varying degrees of course) and a strong local scene (of any genre and anywhere) can definitely help bring out that music lover in all of us.

 

Last night I attended Shattered Sanctity’s show at Le Grande Fromage in Atlantic City, and there was something very noticeable about it.  Mike (vocalist and guitarist) and Keith (guitarist) decided to use their wireless systems for their guitars, and it was pretty cool.  Despite the limited amount of people at the show, the both of them, along with Dan (bassist) showed they worked on their stage presence by going into the crowd to do a few of their many, crazy solos.  In the meantime, Dave (drummer) was casually being insane on the drums, and I believe by the end of the night broke three drum sticks, very metal indeed.

The show wasn’t without it’s faults, as the audio equipment was not working properly during their set.  However, I do not mean to blame the venue, as Jake (the sound guy) was avidly working to fix the problem, and did manage to improve the quality as the night went on.  Though, Mike was grateful for this as he jokingly noted it helped cover up the problems he was having with his voice before and during the show.

Their set consisted of:

  • The Tremendous Struggle
  • Everlasting Hell
  • What Lies Within
  • Take Me Away (Taking Dawn cover)
  • Eyes of the Warrior

The four original’s make up their first EP, and can be listened to at their Facebook and YouTube page.

Overall, it was what I’ve come to expect from Shattered Sanctity: thrasy, melodic, in your face metal with increasing power metal influences.  In other words, a fun band to see live.

Here’s a clip from the show of them performing “Eyes of the Warrior:”

It has come to my attention that there’s a new dance pop single out, and while this may not seem overly interesting, it kind of is, and here’s why.  Havana Brown, hailing form Australia, is no newcomer to the music industry, as she’s been a DJ in Australia, and continues to be so.  Not only that, but she’s been a support act for the likes of Britney Spears and Lady GaGa, to name just two.  Needless to say, she’s not an amateur by any means.  However, I am sorry to say I only learned all of this today.  Though, it’s always better late than never, especially now that her new single, “We Run the Night” was only just uploaded to YouTube on March 7th of this year.

Now, the single itself isn’t really anything special, and that’s a shame, because she seems to be a lot more talented than what’s shown on the single.  That’s not to say it’s bad, but it doesn’t really do anything to distinguish itself from the crowd of other dance pop songs.  Not related to her, but Pitbull does guest appear on the song, and I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m getting tired of hearing him appear on songs for no apparent reason, and in this case all he does is point out that she’s Australian.  Regardless of this, if I heard this on the radio or in a club it would be suitable, but I just can’t help but think it will be forgotten.

Not to fear, as she has another song, and even though it does not have a music video to go along with it, “Get It” is definitely the better of the two songs.  The verses are substantially catchier, and Lil Jon, while never really useful, is always fun to hear on a song.  While the chorus isn’t anything special, it is surprisingly memorable, and will most likely not be forgotten anytime soon.  Also worth noting, the electronic parts without singing over them are actually really neat, as they don’t feel forced but are still able to offer diversity.  Plus, she has the catchy “we ride that boom boom, we ride it hard” hook going on (see how much more sense the article title makes now).

Ignoring the fact that her mixes and remixes are very well done, I’m looking forward to seeing what she does musically in the future.  Yes, it may seem like I was harsh with “We Run the Night,” but it was only because it’s obvious she has a lot of talent, and it would have been interesting to see her be more daring with the song.  Still, as it is it’s a solid dance tune, and with the bass turned up (as it does have some nice bass) it will definitely be fitting for the club.  Hopefully she will be doing some more touring in the near future, as I’d love to either see her perform or DJ live.

Song starts around 1:08:

This year looks to be pretty solid for concerts, and that’s a good thing considered there have not been many for a while.  Kicking it off is Dev, and this is a problem.  I would absolutely love to go to this show, but may not be able to.  It’s at 7:30 on a Tuesday, and there are two support acts.  This means Dev won’t go on until around 9.  That’ll probably be a very good thing for me, because I have class that day at 6, and at the very least can’t miss at least a half hour since we are doing presentations with our groups.  Maybe the teacher will be OK with me missing an hour or more since I’m always there and what not (though, he seems very strict on attendance, so who knows).  This may not end up happening, however there is still hope to see Dev, depending on how willing my fellow concert goers are to do so.  She has a show in NYC on Wednesday, March 28 and one in Washington DC on Thursday, April 19.  Problem is, they’re at night, and getting back for the next day will kind of be difficult.  Not to mention the classes I’ll be missing on the Wednesday, though the Thursday will be substantially easier.  Oh well, this may not end up happening.

Regardless, here’s the new Dev single, and I can only imagine how intense that bass will be in a small venue like The Troc:

No matter, there’s a great show coming to the Wells Fargo Center with LMFAO, Natalia Kills, Far East Movement, and a few other artists.  This will most likely definitely be happening, and it’s only a matter of deciding between the party pit ($100) or the normal floor area ($70), as you don’t go to the seated areas for a show with this much fun attached to it (as I found out after seeing LMFAO at the Ke$ha show last year).  I’ve been wanting to see Natalia Kills for a very long time now, and to see her with LMFAO just adds to how great she is.  Needless to say, this is my most anticipated summer concert.

Switching gears a bit, Sabaton is coming to The Troc on May 3rd, which is going to be pretty awesome.  I’m not a huge fan of them, but they’re music seems like it fits very well for a high energy live show.  Plus, tickets are only $14 (The Troc really has lowered their prices quite a lot).

Looking ahead to the future, I believe Epica will be coming to the US later this year to support their new album, “Requiem For the Indifferent.”  Their support bands for the European tour are Xandria and Stream of Passion, two bands I’m a fan of, and I hope at least one of them (preferably Xandria) will be with them on the US tour.  Though, it really doesn’t matter, since after seeing them live two years ago I have been waiting to see them again.  Hopefully there will be VIP tickets again, as they’re one of my favorite bands and it’s always nice to get stuff signed by them.

Here’s a bit of what’s to come with the new Epica album:

Then there’s Nightwish.  I’m assuming there will be a full US tour, and I’m assuming it’ll either be at the end of this year or beginning of next year.  I’ve been a fan of Nightwish for a very long time, and can honestly say Anette really fits the sound of the new album, so seeing it performed live will be nothing short of brilliant.  I can only imagine who the support bands will be, but it would be amazing if Sonata Arctica went along for the tour, maybe add on Amaranthe and it would be the best symphonic/power metal tour in quite some time.

So there it is, the upcoming concerts I’m currently excited for.  Who knows, something completely random may come in along the way.  Sadly, Dev probably won’t happen, but I suppose that’ll have to be OK, and LMFAO with Natalie Kills will definitely make up for it.  And to think, I was all set to get a Wii and possibly a Vita this year, now the funds shall go to several nights of awesome entertainment.

It’s the Cata… It’s DEV!

OK, The Cataracs did produce Dev’s debut album, The Night The Sun Came Up but I think by now we all know they’re a big part of it (if you don’t know just listen to a song from the album and Dev will tell you).  This is why her song Breathe is so awesome.  She actually says “it’s Dev” in the beginning!  I guess that was to make sure people remember you’re listening to her instead of a mix of J-Lo and Shakira.

I’m not going to review the album, but I will say it’s actually rather good.  I was surprised to see a good mix of dance and slower songs.  Musically, most of the songs are very catchy, which is what all good pop/dance music needs.  Basically, it’s very well written dance/party/pop music that should not be missed.

Right now I’m liking the song Lightspeed.  It took a listen or two but now it’s my second favorite song on the album (the first being Dance In the Dark, which may be the first time a single is my favorite song on an album).

If you don’t know Dev then don’t worry, you will now.

And just because I’ve been liking it so much, here’s Lightspeed