Saturday, April 23, 2016

5 Reasons to Hate Pop Music(That are completely wrong)

One of the things I really can't stand is when people talk about music while using terms they have no right to be using. I hope I can clear things up with this blog post so, the next time you're about to criticize a piece of music, you won't look like a massive hypocrite because you didn't know the reasons you gave for disliking a song might be the same reasons why you like another song. What usually happens is that we read an article, watch a video, see a scientific study and learn something is derivative with current pop music and then we can give ourselves a giant stroke to our egos because we can feel superior that we listen to music from a different time where music wasn't so derivative and...well, it just meant something, man. Wasn't there a time when music was more than about sex, was more than about drugs, and was something meaningful rather than just a string of random bullshit that someone came up with when they were stoned as fuck?

Very deep and meaningful, I guess...

Well, let's just pull the bandage off as quickly as possible so the sting only hurts for a little bit, because, yes, while we are living in a different trend, that doesn't automatically make music worse today. A lot of the things we hear pop songs today were done ages ago. Let me go through some of the common criticisms I keep hearing so I can show you that your favorite songs does the same things you criticize.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

11 Reasons Why You Should Start Listening to Latin Rock

I've been listening to a lot of music in Spanish lately and it has been such a breath of fresh air. Like, it's made me consider getting back into music again only to realize that I've only gone further into listening to music that hardly anyone knows or wants to play. Even if I don't understand the lyrics(which is something that happens a lot in English anyway), there's a lot of great music that I've just been loving. What's especially great is that there are so many groups from so many different countries that you'll get some variety out of the thing.

I think rock might just be a big genre in Latin America. The reason why The Ramones got popular is because they became really famous in Argentina. They actually spawned a whole new rock act in the country. So, coming to listen to all of the rock acts in Latin America feels a bit more like home to me.

So, let me do a top ten....egh, let's do 11. My favorite songs in the Spanish language. Well...maybe not favorite, but definitely a good introduction.

11. La Flaca - Jarabe de Palo

This band gets points for being the gateway into the kind of music I like in Spanish and...honestly, that's kind of about it. These guys were great when I first heard of them, but after listening to other groups, these guys came out to be a bit generic and safe sounding, though they can still be a pleasant listen. And it doesn't make La Flaca kick any less ass than it does, though it doesn't help that Juanes and Santana got a hold of the song and made it kick even more ass. I've actually gone out of my way to listen to the rest of this album and it's pretty decent, though, unfortunately, their best songs are pretty much their more famous ones which honestly isn't a very good sign. But, either way, it's a good song to start with before finding other bands.

Notable mentions: Bonito, Bosque de Palo, El Lado Oscuro

10. Afuera - Caifanes

No matter how good the guitar player is, it's not really common to hear a guitar part that plays a counter melody this complex to complement the main melody from the vocals. What makes it cool is that the guitar work and the vocal work go well enough on their own, but having them put together is something that I wish more songs would do, especially in the rock genre. It's more than just improvising guitar licks; this is a composition. Doing something more than just laying down chords is something I want to see more of in songs(this is a big reason why I like Franz Ferdinand).

Notable Mentions: La Célula que Explota

9. De La Noche a La Mañana

A band probably only really known to Mexico as far as native Spanish speakers go, but these guys are quite great. This song gets a special notice because I kept on hearing "Recuerdas los ojos por la ventana" which means "you remember your eyes through the window." Well that don't make no sense. What do the actual lyrics say? "Y cuelgas los ojos por la ventana." You hang your eyes through the window? That almost makes less sense.

I will say that they do sound a bit like a band that classic rock radio would play to death and you'll never want to hear another fucking song by these guys. I think it's due to how epic sounding they seem to keep sounding. It's almost in that respect of Free Bird where you think "Wow! So epic! A song that's, like, deep and meaningful and then they breakdown into that 500 minute long guitar solo!" Luckily, Elefante has a lot more restraint than that, but I do kind of feel like they'd lose a lot if I listen to them over and over again. Luckily, I have control over how much I listen to them and don't have to hear some shitty DJ play their same songs over and over again.

Notable Mentions: Así es la Vida, Mentirosa

8. Eres Para Mi - Julieta Venegas

This kind of feels like a song I should hate. In fact, I'm not sure how much I can really get into the rest of this artist's work. It's a little more cultured towards Mexico and not really in the way that I like. But this one is a lot more Pop sounding, but sort of in a good way. Yeah, the music video is honestly pretty lame and there's even an awful rap in the middle that you can tell is awful even if you don't speak Spanish, but, somehow, this song manages to pull together. I think it has a lot to do with how the song is constructed. Along with the pretty awesome main melody going on, there are some counter melodies going on and it just sounds really unique. I'd call it a guilty pleasure, but...I honestly just like it a lot because it's constructed well. I wish more pop songs could take note to this. 

Also, Julieta is fucking hot!

Notable mention: Te Voy a Mostrar

7. Oye, Mi Amor - Maná

There's honestly another song by these guys that I think is a little better, but there's something strangely familiar to me about this song that I really like. Perhaps it's because they remind me of The Police and even someone pointed out that the singer sounds a bit like Sting. But even the drum style is a bit like Message in a Bottle. This song happens to be featured in Rock Band 3, something which my reaction was more like "What the fuck is this Mariachi shit? A spanish song? What?" I actually didn't even play this song on Rock Band until I discovered them on my own through Pandora and realized that, really, this song is featured on Rock Band and it's great! Another song by another artist is also featured on Rock Band that I may or may not get to later.

Notable Mentions: Tu Tienes Lo Que Quiero(the song that might be better, but I can't decide), Clavado en un Bar(a little more generic sounding, but it's still alright)

6. La Cordillera - Enanitos Verdes

I was talking to a Spanish speaker about these guys and he was amused by their group name. They're essentially called the Green Dwarves or The Little Green Men, which is hilarious. I have to admit that, out of all the bands in this list, these guys might be the most familiar sounding to American audiences. And I'm picking the live version here because the studio version is honestly not that great. A little too noisy and the guitar player can't seem to show restraint on most of the tracks. But the live performance really comes together to something a bit more unique sounding where even the guitarist comes up with great work. He's got the technical prowess of Peter Frampton with the whatever you call Eddie Van Halen doing's sort of thing and he plays in a way that I wish I could.

Even if they don't bring anything new to American audiences, these guys are honestly pretty great!

Notable Mentions: Tequila, A Las Tres, La Muralla Verde(live version is best), Francés Limón, Mejor no Hablemos de Amor(yeah, I know, a lot of songs this time, but these guys are honestly that good)

5. La Camisa Negra - Juanes

(I can't post the music video here, sorry!)

And here's the other guy from Rock Band, though I didn't choose the song from Rock Band even though I do really like the one they picked. Most of the Spanish speakers I talk to really like this artist and I can say there's a good reason for it. Because he's fucking good!

His songs bring a bit more of Latin American culture sounding styles to his music while still maintaining a more pop or rock focus and he comes out pretty unique. He also worked with Santana on La Flaca to make it more awesome than it already was. It's kind of weird that I don't have much more to say about him other than that, yeah, he kind of is that good!

Notable Mentions: Juntos, Me Enamora, Mala Gente, A Dios le Pido

4. Tu Boca lo Quita - Alex Cuba

Unfortunately, I haven't really heard anything else by this guy that was worth listening to. And that sucks because this song is awesome! Everything feels constructed to perfection from the guitar part to the countering bass with a more talky melody rather than singing that still works really well. It's short and simple, yet, good enough that I kind of have to wonder why there aren't more songs like this.

It's just too bad that the rest of his songs are bunch of boring, easy listening garbage...

3. Bailando Solo - Los Bunkers

(another music video I can't post, but find it because it's great!)

My brother went away to Chile for a bit and discovered these guys. After hearing it, that was kind of it for me in the fact that I guess I'm from the wrong part of the world in terms of music. Everything that you'd find in songs I like can be found here. A dance-like, disco drum beat with a a sort of funky guitar rhythm, an awesome bass part, and a synthesizer part that just kills. This kind of destroys everything about me liking the songs that are a bit more cultured, but how can I ignore a song like this? My point of comparison with this song is Franz Ferdinand and, if I haven't made it clear in the past, I LOVE Franz Ferdinand. To finally find out that there's another group that makes more music like Franz Ferdinand does is a real find.

Of course, they just broke up last year, those bastards...

[REDACTION: They're just taking a break, but the Wikipedia article in English doesn't specifically say that -_-]

I've listen to their album Vida de Perros and it honestly has better songs than Bailando Solo, but 
could I put a whole album instead of a song on my top ten? Well, actually...

The Real Number 3. Vida de Perros (Album) - Los Bunkers

I love this album so much! I don't know where to begin. They are sort of punk and angry while also being musically inclined enough to make actual good music. And their other album I've listened to, La Velocidad de la Luz is honestly quite good, maybe it can be tie with this album. I just hope the rest of their albums are this good.

Notable Mentions: Ven Aquí, Llueve Sobre La Ciudad, Tú, Te Vistes y Te Vas

other songs not from the album: No!, La Velocidad de la Luz, La Estación Final

These guys might be my favorite band from this list and I'm realizing that there are still more songs I should talk about but won't be able to with just having ten.

2. La Primavera/Me Gustás Tu - Manu Chao

(can't find the two together for this blog, just look it up on youtube)

This might be cheating a bit since this guy is actually French, but I'll be damned if I'm not putting this on the list because this is honestly something really special.

This song is weird as fuck! I'm not sure if I really knew what I was listening to when I first heard this, especially since I could actually understand the lyrics for the most part. I like airplanes? I like to travel? I like the morning? What the hell is this song about? Also, he breaks down into "What am I going to do? Je ne se pas" Yep! Random French phrases in a song that's mostly in Spanish. Also, the main lyrics to this song only makes this more cryptic. "Que horas son, mi corazón?" What time is it, my love? A phrase I'm pretty sure was only put together because it rhymes and it sounds cool, especially within the context of the song.

It's also really hard to explain why I like this song too. Maybe because it's really weird yet really well put together to create this unique feeling sound just from the instruments alone. That's how music works for me, by the way. It's not really about the lyrics, it's about the music itself and I'm about to show why with the next song.

Notable Mentions: Clandestino

It's kind of the only other accessible song that can be more easily enjoyed as the rest of his songs can be really, really weird, but it makes for interesting albums.

1. Mal Bicho - Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

These guys speak way to quickly for me to understand and, according to a friend, this song is about a corrupt politician. When I read the lyrics, I realize that it feels like something John Lennon could have written if Imagine was more than just a simple pipe dream song(seriously, he's had better songs than this and that's the one people want to remember?)

But, who cares what the song is about? It's great just on it's own! What's great is that it changes styles almost seemingly at random, yet, it manages to work as a song on it's own. It's got a cool bass line with some great horn work. It also features Mick Jones from The Clash. He has some vocal work apparently...I'm not sure where, but that's really cool, isn't it(though, I'm guessing it's the part where he goes rrwrawerawerawer)?

It's another one of those songs that is honestly a bit weird but it feels right for it. The fact that the song changes styles for brief moments keeps the song from being too repetitive. They have a sort of similar sounding song called Matador and it isn't that good because the primary parts are kind of boring to begin with while also kind of droning on with a repetitive sound until the end. I love this song because it's different than what I usually listen to but is also something I like to listen more of. And the album from where this song comes from is really good too! Let me show you some more songs!

Notable Mentions: Strawberry Fields Forever (Featuring Deborah Harry)

I'm not making this up. This is one of the very few times where a cover changes styles on a song while still making it sound like a good song. And the fact that they got the singer from Blondie to help with this song is really quite something. I mean, how did they get a member from The Clash and a member from Blondie to help a Argentine Ska band? This is just all sorts of cool!

Other songs: Carmela, Saco Azul

In Conclusion

Just type one of these artists in your Pandora and let the magic work. There are still artists that I haven't mentioned, but I think I can mention them later. I hope I was able to introduce something new that you might like.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

An introduction

I've been listening to a lot of music lately and, after reading some bloggers and gaining insight from others' perspective, I decided to try this out on my own.

It might be a bit weird that I only start this up now. I grew up with most people knowing me as the guitar player and as that one guy who was going to be a famous rock star. Now, I haven't performed in a pretty long time, though, maybe(very big maybe, I'm not making promises) it could be something I could get back into if I can find the right people.

I'll throw in a couple posts about my experiences with music later, but, now, only a bit about me:

I do have a pretty diverse musical background. While most people would only ever really pick up a guitar and run with it, I actually started with a clarinet and I played that from the beginning of middle school to the end of high school. I've been in a couple of honor bands and a symphonic orchestra. I've been a part of a backup band in a musical call "Ain't Misbehavin'" And I played tenor sax for a while.

Now, I'm really more of a rock person. I'll admit that it all started with guitar hero, but I feel like I've branched out pretty well(even though I still find Guitar Hero and Rock Band insanely fun, even as someone who can play the guitar). I can play bass, enough keyboard that the music school I went to needed me to play a couple of songs on it, and just a little bit of drums but I really don't have a lot of knowledge on that instrument. And I also have some understanding over a bit of music theory that I hope I can convey in easy to understand ways.

It's sort of funny. This is probably the field where I have the most expertise in yet I've never started any sort of conversation with music. Music has usually been a pretty private experience for me. Usually, when I find new music I like, it's not something I can easily share as it seems to always go to "Sean, what the hell is this?"

It's okay though, I've had this experience with other people, so I hope I can help develop a conversation over what makes good music or why we like a certain song.

What can you expect from this blog? Well, opinions over popular music but I'm not sure if I can keep this up to date in terms of what's popular right now. I'll be super honest; me trying to keep up with what's popular all the time is going to leave me tired and depressed because, while there are good songs that get released every once in a while, I pretty much hate most of what gets released. But, if I ever have anything to say, you can trust that I'll put it here.

Others will be just music I'm currently listening to and what I think of some successful acts that I may or may not think deserve it. Also, it should force me to listen to music in which I might not usually listen to.

Anyways...I guess I should find like a music video to set things off...

Well, electro swing is apparently a thing. I find it pretty cool. Give it a listen!