Queue It Up: November 5, 2018

While there may not have been that many notable albums hitting shelves last Friday, some of our favorites released some individual tracks that I know everyone will be interested in.

First up is the King of Emo himself, Gerard Way. Just in time for Halloween, Way turned in “Baby You’re a Haunted House”, a short song about the way we hide things in relationships. The “haunted house” refers to all the things that are wrong in Gerard’s subject’s life, and the way he or she masks that is by making it look like it’s not a big deal.

Gerard says in the bridge, though, “I’ll be the ghost inside your head when we are through”, and it seems like one of the biggest problems is the relationship itself, and when it ends, they’ll add Gerard to the group of things inside the haunted house. Perfect for both Halloween playlists and for crying your eyes out when you’re the ghost.

Next we have ”Pope” by Copeland. The track is not officially attached to an album or an EP (yet), which is equally exciting and terrifying. Just one mystifying track. With sprinklings of dialogue in the middle and at the end, Copeland really keeps surprising us with every new release. Whatever this turns into, “Pope” itself seems like a B-side from Ixora, and that thrills me.

The band performed “Pope” at their Imperial Symphony Orchestra show, and on the web page for that show, it states that, “Lakeland rock band Copeland will release a sixth album in Spring 2018,” which, granted, has already passed us by, but gives me hope that whatever happens next will be beautiful.

Finally, hot off the presses as of this author’s recording, and perhaps the most praise-hands-emoji inducing, is “Baby”, the new track from Clean Bandit featuring Luis Fonsi and Marina Diamandis. I am especially excited because this track will also be on Marina’s next studio album. She’s back, even when we all thought she never would be. There was a comment on this song calling it “Despacito ,,” and to be honest, if that were the case I wouldn’t even be mad. The track is catchy and totally dance-worthy, and the video is just as great.

So, some rad new jams to throw in your rotation…Enjoy the week!

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Reflecting On: Say Anything – In Defense of the Genre

In many ways, In Defense of the Genre is the absolute time capsule of pop punk in 2007. The sounds spanning the double album run the gamut of what was popular at the time while still managing to be, arguably, the most “Say Anything” record that exists. Guest vocals appear on over half the songs in unique, significant parts. In Defense of the Genre isn’t for everyone, especially on first listen, but it is an opus that celebrates and challenges the genre in every way.

You can buy In Defense of the Genre on iTunes.

After the success of …Is a Real Boy, Max Bemis faced what seemed an impossible task: topping himself. What he produced is a masterpiece of collaboration, experimentation and craft. In Defense of the Genre brought the outward, judgmental venom of “Admit It!!!” and cast it in every direction. To counterbalance this, Bemis also provided uncomfortably reflective and humbling lyrics of himself. The colorful poetry describing drug addiction, psychosis and coming to terms with indiscriminate anger is equal parts enthralling and sickening.

In Defense of the Genre is a dark album that reflects the time of its release. The golden era of the early 2000’s had faded and the few bands that still seemed to have any traction were heavier and brooding. Nearly everyone took a stab at experimentation, and while some succeeded, this era saw a massive drop off of bands that had been big just a couple years prior.

Rather than remake another punk record, Say Anything delved to see how depraved pop punk could be. The entire album is a blur of genre. Techno, dance, ragtime piano, grunge and pop seamlessly traipse between tempo changes that would kill a song by a lesser writer. Somehow, each sound manages to survive a solid coat of production and make a cohesive sound. In Defense of the Genre is as much a masterful dark pop album as it is the sound of madness itself.

The stories about Max Bemis prior to this album are legendary. Wandering the streets before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, mental hospitals, and drug abuse seemed to constantly filter in through the news sites for a while. In his writing, not only did Bemis not shy away from this, the entire album documents the process of finding himself in the midst of madness (“The Church Channel”) and crawling his way out (“Sorry, Dudes. My Bad.”)

While each song attempted something new, some of the true stand outs are the acoustic tracks. “An Insult to the Dead” is one of Say Anything’s most amazing songs. The wrangled guitar, the gentle tambourine and plinking piano, and Max’s voice, accompanied by the faint shout in the background during the chorus, create a haunted effect. More than anything, the heartbreak in Bemis’ voice as he sings, “Oh God, forgive me Moses, Jesus, Allah” is unparalleled.

One true highlight is the use of guest vocals. They’re expertly chosen and provide a snapshot of who was popular. What’s amazing is how many of them are still wildly relevant today. On top of that, their placement in songs reflects the guest’s own personality. Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara provides the evil voice of paranoia on “Surgically Removing the Tracking Device”. Paramore’s Hayley Williams is the defiant angel on his shoulder in “The Church Channel” that urges him to seek help (“You were forlorn in despair / With your drugs and your hardcore porn / Trust me, those days won’t be mourned”).

Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba provides a haunting melody in the background of “Retarded in Love”. Anthony Green is the voice of alcoholism (“Hangover Song”). Gerard Way appears in the title track, a song attempting to make sense of why musicians write. The song breaks into a momentary country western jamboree as Way sings, “I’ve got an empty wallet and a record cover”, reminding himself that the best art doesn’t guarantee reward.

Max Bemis never hid his adoration of Saves The Day. I remember hearing a rumor about how the band dropped off of a tour with Saves The Day, allegedly due to drug problems. “Sorry, Dudes. My Bad.” seems to address this directly. Max asks his bandmates for help, and swears that evil shouldn’t be in their tour van. Saves The Day’s Chris Conley appears after an interlude of people offering help. Hearing Bemis’ personal hero shout, “If you want it, then come and get it /We’re all with you now”, still gives me chills 10 years later.

In Defense of the Genre is a true artistic endeavor. It was a massive risk taken at the height of Say Anything’s popularity. It’s also the last ‘classic’ Say Anything record. After this, the band’s sound became poppier and Max’s struggles less dire. What should be a hot mess of a record manages to be a cohesive concept album that finds the sound of madness itself. It’s an album that truly deserves to be celebrated on its anniversary, even though it may not be to everyone’s liking.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and is currently fighting the pesky Baratheon hordes! …..Or battling his cat to the death over small flakes of chicken.

Podcast: My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade – 10 Years Later

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It’s hard to believe, but The Black Parade is officially 10 years old. On this episode of the podcast, Kiel Hauck and Kyle Schultz reflect on a classic by My Chemical Romance. They share their memories of the album, why it was so important to the scene, break down their favorite “what ifs,” and discuss the impact the album had on the band’s eventual demise. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What are your thoughts on The Black Parade 10 years later? Share your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Gerard Way – Hesitant Alien

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My Chemical Romance was a well-worn machine; they created magic in the recording studio and spread the credit to each member of the band. Now that they’ve separated, it’s becoming interesting and far easier to see the individual cogs that held MCR together.

I think it is safe to say that most everyone expected Gerard Way’s first solo album to be a sassy demonstration of his swagger and persona, but considering that he was really only credited with lead vocals on MCR’s albums and on stage, it’s impressive that he can write an album that is just so damn good.

Hesitant Alien sounds as though it is a natural progression out of MCR’s Danger Days; wave after wave of fuzzy guitars, heavy drums, bombardments of bass and a raging synth. There is a dynamic surf-style chord progression to the guitars that keep the songs grungy and charismatic.

This is a common thread throughout the album that makes it sound cohesive, if not slightly similar. The punk aspect that Way has been so familiar with is replaced by driving rock beats that sound more aligned with a heavy indie sound. The addition of random instruments, like a saxophone in “Get the Gang Together” just feels right with the playfulness of the music.

As someone not known for his guitar work, Way seamlessly channels the sound from verse to chorus to intricate and meaningful solos. The fuzz of the guitar doesn’t get in the way of melody or overpower the other instruments. “No Shows” has a heavy rhythm that translates to an energetic jam of an instrumental halfway through. The fuzzed power chords become incredibly soothing against the relentless drums. The bass is heavy, often equally as fuzzy and always popping at the forefront.

As with Frnkiero and the Cellabration, former MCR touring drummer Jarrod Alexander absolutely kills it. He destroys the drums with heavy beats that maintain a hypnotic steadiness that pairs perfectly with the grunge of the guitars and Way’s eccentric vocals.

Vocally, Way delivers the electric performance he is known for. He barks out sharp vocals that sound more comfortable and natural against the pop grunge guitar than the stylized punk rock of MCR. However, that may be the biggest detriment to his voice; it sounds comfortable. While his singing sounds natural and eccentric, he doesn’t seem to be pushing or challenging himself the way that his fans know he oftentimes does. However, given the work he put into writing such balanced songwriting, it’s not surprising that he wouldn’t strain his vocals as much with everything else to concentrate on.

Lyrically, fans shouldn’t expect to find the grand storytelling or deep poetic prose of MCR. These songs are whimsical and simple. They’re easy to sing along to, but don’t carry much weight past the surface level. The verses are sparse, with the brunt of the song relying on the chorus, such as the second verse of “Action Cat”, which is simply, “Every accidental damage I wouldn’t take, every heart I left behind you couldn’t break.”

There are a few charming lyrics though, but they are sparsely hidden. During “Millions”, Way sings, “You believe in love, I believe in faith. They’ll believe in anything, you make up the villains. A trillion legions of the damned and William.” Nothing deep emotionally, but it’s a line that will turn your head. Though the lyrics are pretty basic, they make some great lines to sing over the raving guitars.

Hesitant Alien is a great surprise from an artist not particularly known outside of their vocals and energetic stage performance. The quality of the writing and experimentation is beyond what I imagined Way capable of on his first go as a solo artist, which proves how little I thought I knew about the inner workings of MCR.

The energy, passion and spectacle are alive and thriving on this record. Just like he managed a little over a decade ago, Gerard Way came out swinging to prove to anyone willing to listen that he’s one of the greatest performers of this generation.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

Gerard Way releases new song titled “Action Cat”

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Gerard Way, former lead vocalist for My Chemical Romance, has released a new solo single, titled “Action Cat”.  Way announced recently that he has signed to Warner Bros. Records and will soon be releasing his debut solo album. You can currently buy the song on iTunes and listen to the song below:

What are your thoughts on “Action Cat”? Let us know in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Reflecting on: My Chemical Romance – Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge

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Throughout 2014, we’re going to be looking back on some of the best albums that were released 10 years ago and discussing their legacy. Feel free to share your thoughts and memories in the replies. Enjoy!

I was sitting in a dorm room full of friends when I first heard My Chemical Romance. “You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison” came on amidst a random playlist and I can distinctly remember the drone of conversation fading away as I focused in on the song. I was enthralled by every word.

Immediately after the track ended, I began frantically asking a friend of mine to whom the playlist belonged about the band. It turns out, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, the band’s sophomore album, had been released a couple of months prior. I quickly purchased the CD and can’t remember listening to much else during that, the fall semester of my junior year of college.

Fair warning: Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is my favorite album. Thus, you can expect this 10-year retrospective to be full of positive reflection and nostalgic reminiscings. But more than just an album that was formative to my own taste, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge blew out what was left of the floodgates holding back emo from the mainstream.

The reasons for this appear puzzling at first, but become more evident when you dig a little deeper.

***

There’s a true duality to Three Cheers – from the outside, the album is a gritty story of death and revenge, and the band, with their dark outfits, greasy dyed hair and messy makeup, do little to draw in the casual observer. However, there’s a true motive bubbling just beneath the surface.

The band signed to Warner Bros. imprint Reprise Records after their debut, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, and hit the studio with acclaimed producer Howard Benson to record the follow-up. Benson has a track record of adding the necessary polish to push fringe rock bands over the top, making the raw sound of Three Cheers a tad suspect.

Upon further examination, it’s quite clear that a guiding hand lent aid to the band in formulating smashes like “Helena” and “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” – tracks that feature pop choruses without allowing the band to abandon their dark side. There’s a certain charisma to vocalist Gerard Way that was unleashed during the recording of this album that makes this fence-riding possible.

His seething and wailing don’t fit the typical emo mold. Instead, he pushes past those genre expectations with theatrics, something that plays right into the hands of the record itself, and something that was certainly utilized and milked for all it was worth by Benson. This isn’t a case of a band being molded into a shallow shell by a big name producer – this is a collision of two worlds, creating a greater byproduct.

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is as oddly accessible as it is rough around the edges. A dark, terrible tale told through a band hitting their stride while being guided toward a larger audience. The aftermath lent itself to an excess of rip offs, but none that could ever match that initial magic.

Aside from Way’s pain-filled, biting poetry, the album is filled with memorable riffs, courtesy of Frank Iero and Ray Toro’s shredding guitars while Gerard’s younger brother Mikey Way lays down brooding bass lines. Many of the album’s best moments are those that didn’t find their way to MTV: A ripping guitar solo on “Thank You For the Venom”, the chilling transition between “The Ghost of You” and “The Jetset Life is Gonna Kill You”, or Way’s haunting shrieks of, “I can’t get the blood off the sheets of my bed” that bring the album to a close on “I Never Told You What I Do For a Living”.

While the album is chock full of incredible individual songs, they are truly all parts of a greater whole. A record released in the midnight hour before digital singles and online playlists ruled the day, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge begs to be heard in its entirety, from front to back. Less a concept album, more a uniquely told story of love, death and revenge, each song tells its own chapter with its own style, ranging from punk to pop to emo to post-hardcore to gothic rock without missing a beat.

While the success of Three Cheers left My Chemical Romance as the poster boys for the new emo wave, the band was never content to fill that role. Only two years later, the band would abandon it all in favor of a new sound and look in the form of rock opera The Black Parade. After that, it was on to the brightly colored laser pop of Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.

In that abandonment came confusion for many who assumed My Chemical Romance were exactly who they put themselves forward to be. Only in hindsight is it clear that the band itself was an exercise in experimentation – a theatrical display that had a number of very different and very unique stories to tell. Even still, the success of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge set the stage for all of those stories to be told with an abundance of flair and pageantry.

The fact that the band was able to drench their listeners in a bucket of fake blood amidst a story of death and violence at the outset only serves to further bolster their legacy. My Chemical Romance made no apologies for who they were or what they set out to do, and in doing so, unexpectedly changed the course of the scene and lit a fire under mainstream pop.

At the forefront of it all was Gerard Way – a shy kid who spent his days drawing comic books in his parent’s basement before deciding to front his own rock band. Through the course of the band’s career, he would play several characters on stage with vigor and purpose, but perhaps none more fervent than that of the protagonist of Three Cheers – a role he played so truly that it nearly led to his own demise.

***

Shortly after hearing that first My Chemical Romance song in college, I learned through word of mouth that the band would be playing a show at a small club called The Green Door in downtown Oklahoma City in a few short weeks. The night of the show, I made the nearly-three hour drive to line up in front of the door to see the band play. They had yet to break it big, so the crowd and venue were small, but the buzz was palpable.

That evening, while standing outside the venue in between bands, someone in a jacket with long, stringy black hair and a sock cap walked up and stood next to me against the building and lit a cigarette. It was Gerard Way. We stood next to each other in silence as he smoked. I didn’t know what to say, so I simply enjoyed the moment.

He finished the cigarette, gave me a nod and went back inside. After a moment, I followed suit. I then enjoyed a wildly entertaining, intimate set from a band that would go on to be a favorite of mine to this day. The band played almost every song from the newly released Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge.

Years later, I saw the band during an arena tour after the release of Danger Days. During the set, filled with flames, lights and spectacle, I couldn’t help but remember that day in Oklahoma City where the band was just on the cusp of their breakout. I’ve loved every subsequent release My Chemical Romance created, but none do I hold as dear as Three Cheers – the one that started it all.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

My Chemical Romance stream final song “Fake Your Death”

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My Chemical Romance have released the final song the band recorded together, titled “Fake Your Death”. The song is the first track on the band’s upcoming greatest hits release, May Death Never Stop You.

You can stream the song below:

You can preorder May Death Never Stop You at the official My Chemical Romance website.

What are your thoughts on the song? Let us know in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

4 broken-up bands we’re thankful we had

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Now that 2013 is hitting the home stretch, we thought we’d look back on some of the bands that decided to hang it up this year. Normally, this would be a time of mourning the loss of beloved acts, but instead, we’re choosing to reflect thankfully on the music they provided. Take a look at some of the best bands to say goodbye this year and feel free to tell us what broken-up band you’re thankful for.

My Chemical Romance

The My Chemical Romance break-up announcement earlier this year was sharp, unexpected and especially painful, since it seemed like the band had a lot of life left in them. Alas, that was not the case. Their final release of work, Conventional Weapons, was a collection of discarded songs that were originally recorded for what was to become Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. You can argue for the greatness of just about every album this band released, and they undoubtedly had an enormous impact on not only the scene, but rock music as a whole.

Underoath

Technically, Underoath announced their break-up late last year. However, their farewell tour took place in January of this year, so we’re saying it counts. A band that was truly a pioneer in the post-hardcore genre, Underoath had a knack for creating some of the most sonically intriguing heavy music of the past decade and surely influenced an entire wave of post-hardcore/metalcore bands that have come onto the scene in recent years. Their passion for excellence and their desire to break the mold set them apart and made them one of the most influential heavy bands this scene has known.

Go Radio

Go Radio was a wonderful project for all of the Mayday Parade fans who mourned the loss of Jason Lancaster. However, Lancaster managed to turn Go Radio into something much larger and grander than an offshoot of his old band. Instead, Go Radio would create some of the catchiest and well-made pop rock of the past few years. Their swan song, Close the Distance, is a blueprint of what catchy, intelligent pop rock should sound like and certainly should have resulted in the band’s accent to the top of the charts. Instead, the album passed many by and led to the band’s dissolution. The good news is that Lancaster is far from done making music. Let’s hope his fantastic songwriting carries over to his next project.

The Chariot

The Chariot never experienced the fame and draw that many heavy bands in this scene have garnered in the past decade, which is a real shame. The Georgia mathcore act was unrelenting, releasing five solid albums including 2010’s Long Live – a classic in the genre. The band’s wild live performance accompanied by Josh Scogin’s passionate and desperate roar set the band apart from many wannabe acts that cashed in on the metalcore extravaganza of the late aughts. The Chariot blazed a trail of technical, thoughtful hardcore music that cuts to the core and creates a sonic atmosphere far deeper than what you might expect.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.