Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Bands

So I’m deciding to write this blog because I’ve found it very hard to be happy these days. I also haven’t really been much in the mood to write, or even have anything to write about. This used to be one of my biggest passions that I even went to school for. I used to work on my comic, write blogs, and write short stories all the time, but lately all I’ve wanted to do was watch movies and read comics. I needed to find a way to manufacture inspirato.

During my day I’ve noticed that the thing that makes me happy is when I’m doing something that makes someone smile. I’ve also realized that I’m very passionate and knowledgeable about the things that I love. In the words of Harvey Danger, “When you like something, it’s an opinion, but when I like something it’s a manifesto.” So I thought I’d try to combine the two. In the tradition of High Fidelity, I’m going to comprise a weekly top 5 list on subjects ranging from things that I love to things that piss me off.

So what I want from people who read this is to comment back with your own top 5’s on the subject, or just your opinion on the matter. I think it’s great to learn from other people so I would love to hear what everyone has to say on the matter.

Oh, and just a warning. I tend to curse like a sailor so if it offends, I’m sorry.

So this week’s episode is going to be Mikey’s top 5 favorite bands. Now I have a strict guideline for judging this (that I will coincidently break for one of the entries). The rules are this. The band has to have at least 3 full albums released. All music must be composed by the band (meaning cover songs are allowed. This also means no country music can make my list because almost none of those red necks write their own music). The third rule is that all of these bands had to have in some way changed my life or the way that I think about music. The last rule is that it has to actually be a band, not one person who has a band (an example would be Ozzy Osbourne). I don’t like the idea of a front man taking credit for all the people who actually play their music but aren’t good enough to be recognized.

So a little background here. Music has been part of the tri-force that comprises my life. My dad was a huge influence in that area by buying everything from the Beach Boys to Pink Floyd. He also wrote and recorded his own music. In middle school and high school I was involved with every choir and musical, and attended state elite choirs on multiple occasions. During college I got involved heavily in my local music scene and along with friends planned dozens of shows that brought in a great outlet for the youth of our little county. On top of that I have over 11,000 songs on my Itunes. So I do actually feel like I have a legitimate opinion on the subject of music. So let’s get this started.

5. Brand New

Every album by this band has been completely different. Their debut, “Your Favorite Weapon,” is typical for starting bands. It’s full of angst over being young and dealing with broken hearts. Original? No. While the album is great and very articulate in not only lyrics, but with musical precision, it lacks one element that is needed to make a great band. That is wisdom. The only people in history that have made careers off of being pissed off are Hitler and Bill O’Reilly.

After the exposure Brand New received from their debut I honestly expected their next album to be a carbon copy of their frosh efforts. Not so. “DeJa Entendu,” was released 2 years after “Your Favorite Weapon.” This album was all about reflection on what has happened to the band over the last two years. Songs about missing home, hating the music industry, sex, and self acknowledgement of flaws. The music had become more mellow and experimental and seemed to give a general feeling of confusion as to what the future will really hold. The band had showed that they weren’t another pop-punk band hell bent on just making noise.

Brand New’s third release, “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me,” was released in late 2006 after a hiatus where the band seemed to have almost dropped off the face of the Earth. Rumors that they recorded multiple albums worth of songs only to completely scrap them surfaced as well as reported long breaks in the recording process left this fan worried for what might come next. Thankfully their third release did just what its predecessor did and found a way to reinvent itself. This time they released an album that I describe as a bi-polar experience. In a single song you will experience your highest highs and your lowest lows. This album touches on the subject of spirituality where their previous works barely saw that angle. While not as much of a rock album as their earlier work, “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me,” deserves to be recognized for it’s brilliant composition. After hearing this album I understood why they spent so long crafting this piece of art and not just churning out another manufactured album like most bands.

-Your Favorite Weapon
-Deja Entendu
-The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

4. Coheed and Cambria

Only one word can be used when describing Coheed and Cambria. Epic. There are a lot of bands out there that have concept albums. Coheed and Cambria is a concept band. Every album is a continuation of a story about a boy named Claudio Killgannon and his journey where he discoveries he is part of a conspiracy trying to cover up the fact that he’s a Christ like savior called, The Crowing. This evolves into an intergalactic fantasy/sci-fi epic that includes everything from space battles to super powered assassins.

Not only is the idea really fucking cool, but the music is more then top notch. Many reviewers have compared them to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Now my analysis is that Floyd and Zep had a baby. Then J.R.R. Tolkien and Phillip K Dick had a baby. Those two babies met and had another baby that they named Coheed and Cambria. Like I said, fucking epic.

4 albums have been released so far as well as a Claudio Sanchez’s side project, “The Prize Fighter Inferno,” which tells the story of the main characters uncle, Jesse. Their final album which is supposed to be the first part of the story in currently being written with great anticipation. They also have a comic book series written by Claudio Sanchez called, “The Amory Wars,” which tells the same story only in a graphic narrative form.

Coheed and Cambria showed me that it’s okay to do something that no one’s ever done before.

-The Second Stage Turbine Blade
-In Keeping Secrets of the Silent Earth 3
-Good Apollo I’m Burning Stat 4 Part 1: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness
-Good Apollo I’m Burning Star 4 Part 2: No World for Tomorrow
-The Prize Fighter Inferno

3. Say Anything

This bands name says it all. They will literally write a song about anything. Songs about love, sex, being institutionalized, fashion trends, spirituality, and politics. Their most popular single to date is actually about a Jewish couple surviving in WWII Germany. On top of that their style will change depending on the content of the song. Electronica beats, jazz club piano, hard rock, soft rock, it doesn’t matter. If it’s what the lyrics need then it’s what they’ll get.

A lot of you who know me know that I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety issues over the last year or so. One of the things that’s really helped me deal with this is the honesty and integrity behind Max Bemis’ lyrics. He openly discusses how his depression and anxiety has affected his life and recounts personal experiences vividly with the precision of a surgeon. He even has a song about going to a therapist about his anxiety issues, and how the cost of therapy itself gives him anxiety. This is something that I’m currently experiencing.

Say Anything has only released two albums to date but I let them pass because both albums were a double disc release giving enough content for 4 albums. Max Bemis doesn’t stop there. In an attempt to bring about something new in the music industry, for $150 you can send him a story about yourself that he will write into a song, record it, and give it exclusively to you. Max Bemis gave his personal guarantee that it will be great because he refuses to write a bad song. I’m pretty sure that’s cool.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Say Anything will continue to pave ground and be original with every song recorded.

-Is A Real Boy
-In Defense of the Genre

2. Saves The Day

The first time I heard the song, “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off To Heaven,” I’ll admit, I cried. My friend Kayla let me borrow a whole bunch of CD’s of bands I had never heard of before. She introduced me to not only Saves The Day, but Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Midtown, Yellow Card (before they started sucking), Rufio, and many more before any of these bands had really carved a name for themselves. I can tell you that weekend alone changed my life. The one band that stood out the most though was Saves The Day. Chris Connelly somehow made lyrics that shouldn’t work, work. He could make metaphors that still haunt my mind and I find myself repeating them like I’m reciting Confucius.

Their style has gone from punk to emo to a brilliant mix of both that shows that there are some bands you can’t pigeon hole into a genre. They now have six full albums, a b-sides album and multiple acoustic releases. They have stood the test of time in a music industry where bands can have a few releases but then break up because they can’t make a living in a music industry dominated by Brittany Spears style crap that has made many bands (such as Yellow Card and Sum 41) conform just to break off a piece of stardom.

Saves The Day isn’t afraid to try something new. If you know the band well you’ll know what I mean when I say, what the fuck is up with In Reverie? They’re also now dabbling in the concept area with their last two releases, “Sound The Alarm,” and, “Under The Boards,” which are the first two parts of a trilogy of albums.

Members of Say Anything and Saves The Day are combing together to form a side project called, “Two Tongues,” where both Max Bemis and Chris Connelly share lead singing duties. I’m excited.

-Can’t Slow Down
-Through Being Cool
-Stay What You Are
-In Reverie
-Sound The Alarm
-Under The Boards
-Ups and Downs
-I’m Sorry I’m Leaving
-The Bug Sessions

1. Bayside

Just so you know this one came as a surprise to me until very recently. On thing that Bayside says is, “Bayside is a cult.” My god, it’s true. I first listened to this band last winter. I downloaded their third album, :The Walking Wounded.” I was so pissed at myself for not jumping on these guys when I first heard of them years prior from my friend Morgan (who’s a damn good musician in his own right. The kid is still in high school and he’s better then most professionals). I digress. This band combined face melting guitar solos with some of the most touching, relatable, and poetic lyrics I’ve ever heard. If that makes me an emo kid then I swear I will build you a boat and cry you a river leading to the nearest store to pick up just any album from these guys.

I’m not kidding when I say I want to tattoo these guys lyrics to my body to symbolize the fact that I won’t give up (just ask Shelby). In past blogs I’ve written about how hopeless I feel about the world, how frustrated I am with my position in it, and how scared of the future I am. When I feel that way I can seriously turn on any song from these guys and instantly feel better. And so far I haven’t had to feel like I’m going to run out of their magic because they’ve been releasing an album almost every year since their debut. This is one of the hardest working bands today. They’re constantly on tour and writing brilliance.

In, “Blame It On Bad Luck,” they talk about the next band that will change their life. Well for me it was them, and they changed my life. I am honestly a stronger person because of them. I never thought that I’d be one of those people that said that a band saved them, but I’m telling you right now that with all the things that have been driving me crazy over the last year, Bayside has been my anchor and has kept me alive. So if you like me being around give them a listen and see if they float your boat.

-Sirens and Condolences
-The Walking Wounded

So that’s my top 5 favorite bands. The best thing about it is that this one’s mine and everyone else’s will be different. So comment and give your top 5. You don’t have to judge by my same criteria, just be honest because there aren’t enough people in the world who are. Thanks a lot for reading this. It seriously does mean a lot to me. Join me next week for my top 5 reasons not to go to college,


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