On the short list of bands I love who never managed to survive long enough to become a major thing, IPS is definitely pretty close to the top, for a number of reasons. Their first record, which was self titled, was an amazing piece of work that basically feels like, even now, there wasn’t a single bad song on it. Their follow-up EP, Never Be Content, is a little more experimental, but still features one of my favorite songs from the band, in “Out of Touch.” The band name is a reference to 1984, and they responded to their departure from their record label by noting that the label expected their debut single to be the next “Just Dance,” and responded by saying “Our bad.”
How can I not love the band?
That said, the single biggest reason I love IPS is because of the above track, simply because it is amazing, and if you disagree, I’m sorry you don’t like awesome things. The song is a pretty solid and blunt condemnation of the starfucker aspects of our culture, and it’s honestly still really applicable even now, almost a decade after its initial release. The video itself has a very Videodrome quality to it, which is probably intentional given the content of the song and the undertones of most of the songs on the album, honestly.
Today, Butcher Babies:
About a year ago, one of my friends was discussing In This Moment with another person, who proceeded to inform him that ITM was very bad, and started recommending other bands to listen to who were, supposedly, much better. One of those bands was Butcher Babies, a musical act that basically seemed, at the time, to be based entirely around the idea that the female vocalists were aiming to destroy their vocal chords before they hit thirty, with the song “Monster’s Ball” being a high point. The thing that struck me as especially interesting, at the time, was that both of the lead vocalists can clearly sing, and it wouldn’t be at all hard (since you have two vocalists and all) to simply understate your screaming vocals with some more traditional singing so as to generate a fairly unique sound, as there aren’t a lot of metal bands with two female singers, both of whom can sing and scream.
Well, if “Headspin” is any indication, it turns out that yeah, that isn’t really enough to distinguish them as a band either.
This, again, comes back to a case where the technical skills of the band are clearly up to par, but their ability to create something is limited due to their inherent creative limitations. Put more bluntly: it’s a song about fucking, and even then it’s still fairly boring. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s largely creatively uninteresting; the song simply washes over the listener, content to simply exist until it ends, and it leaves you in no way changed or bettered for having partaken in it.
Also there’s boobs, so that’s nice I guess.
Today, Whitney Peyton:
Have you ever heard a musician who is technically talented, but can’t produce good music? Whitney Peyton is basically in that boat.
I’ve been following Whitney for a couple of years now, as my friend J. Rose pointed her out to me, and I want to be clear up front: her flow is awesome, and if all you care about is technical chops, she’s got them for days. The problem, if you couldn’t tell from the above, is that while her ability is excellent, her writing is… not that. Let me give you another example:
Look at this. Everything, everything about this song is amazing, from the awesome backing tracks to Whitney’s skills to the presentation of the video… but the chorus is, seriously, “Woopty Woo Woo.”
If you have the inclination to do so, you can check her channel and note that she has several covers of actually well written songs posted, and she does amazing with them, so this is clearly an issue with the content of the songs. I hope she can find someone to pair up with who can write something interesting for her to rap over, but at this point, she’s someone who’s got a lot of talent, but isn’t making a lot of music anyone is likely to want to hear.
This is another song that happened to pop up during random YouTube listening sessions, and my major point of interest here is the chorus, not because the lyrics or composition are especially strong, but because I really appreciate the tempo change from the verses to the chorus. Put simply, I like it when songs start off in a more subdued fashion before escalating to a powerful chorus, which is probably why I like Breaking Benjamin at all, come to think of it. As a song, this is otherwise nothing amazing; it’s completely fine in the ways you’d expect it to be completely fine, but it doesn’t do anything to really stand out among its contemporaries. However, it pleases my ear, and again, sometimes, that’s enough.
Today, Demon Hunter (no, really):
I’m kind of playing catch-up after some anxiety stuff (don’t ask), so I don’t have a lot to say here; this song is, on a base level, fairly narmy (IE you can’t help but think it’s a bit over-the-top despite feeling as if it’s written completely earnestly), but I kind of like narmy songs, as my ownership of Kamelot and early Nine Inch Nails proves. It happened to come on during a random rotation of Youtube tracks, and I honestly enjoy it for what it is; it’s not amazing or anything, but it’s fun in a “this is clearly meant to be serious but I can’t take it as such” sort of way, and I can’t ask for a lot more than that.
Today, Anna Blue:
This came up in-between Digital Daggers songs in a random Youtube playlist, and while my eyes were attracted to the video because it’s not an aesthetic you see too often in music videos, the thing I noticed in the music was that it felt like a fairly standard pop-rock band with a female vocalist, save for the fact that it was pretty apparent that the vocalist was, if Oomph! and Eisbrecher had taught me anything, probably German.
Honestly, the music is sort of hit-or-miss; it’s very much what you’d expect from a teenager’s rock band, and while the band is clearly talented, the music is pretty basic. That said, I like it, partly because it’s not trying to be anything more than what it is, and partly because it’s just an enjoyable, uncomplicated song, and sometimes that’s honestly all I really want.
Plus the one dude in the video is wearing a Yaoi shirt in class, which is accidentally hilarious.
Today, Michael Jackson:
It’s Halloween, what did you expect?
Today, Tears for Fears:
I’ve spent a not-insignificant amount of time talking about my love for 80’s music and aesthetics, so it shouldn’t be a particularly big surprise that, when Tears for Fears decided to drop a new song in 2017, I’d want to give it a listen and highlight it here.
I mean, let’s be up-front here: Tears for Fears, as a band, hasn’t been relevant since The Seeds of Love, if I’m being charitable, or more likely, Songs from the Big Chair, which was in… 1985, aka three decades ago. That said, however, I’ve rather enjoyed bits and pieces of their 80’s and 90’s work, all the way through, sigh, Raoul and the Kings of Spain, but their 2004 album Everybody Loves a Happy Ending was… weird. It’s not bad, as such, in the same way this isn’t bad, it just doesn’t sound like Tears for Fears anymore, and, uh… that’s kind of the only thing the band has going for it at this point.
That said, I don’t hate this; there’s a fine sound to it that, while not especially current or consistent with what you’d expect from the band, sounds fine enough to listen to more than once. The chorus is also pretty well composed too, enough that it it honestly supports the rest of the song more than you’d think on first listen. Would I listen to the rest of this record? Probably not. But this is a fine first single to release from it in any case, and that counts for something.
I discovered this song through YouTuber Mitch Cramer, AKA Heavy Eyed, as he runs a wonderful Discord full of people who are, somehow, willing to put up with my bullshit. A user there, “Not a Pigeon” (who I suspect may be a pigeon) posted this track, and I’m nothing if not interested in checking out R&B when it’s good. I know that, based on the things I post here normally, it’d be easy to say “dude likes industrial, pop and EDM” and move on with your day, but I have kind of an eclectic musical upbringing; my mother used to sit me down in front of MTV to watch Twisted Sister videos as well as alternating between 80’s pop and country in the car, and I grew up surrounded by En Vogue, boy bands, grunge and industrial music, so I honestly just want to love everything, given the chance. I’m as likely to have Nine Inch Nails or Aphex Twin on a mix as I am Janelle Monae, is the point, so despite having never heard of Kelela before, I was all in to jumping into this to see what her music is all about.
Turns out, it’s complicated.
On a basic level, it’s R&B, in just the way you’d expect, from a solid electronic beat with some solid bass behind it to some really beautiful vocals from Kelela herself; you could probably hear it on the radio or at a club or whatever and not think twice about it. However, there are little things about this that I kind of love that are beyond the surface, like how the song is basically a relatively complicated way of saying “Look, you wanna fuck or nah? Because if not that’s fine,” which isn’t really a topic that you hear as an up-front conversation unless it’s coming from Lil Wayne, basically. Also, there’s a bottle-popping sample that’s used to fill in the beat, which is just this random detail you don’t pick up on the first time that’s interesting, even if it isn’t anything complicated. It’s just… interesting, in an uncomplicated way, essentially.
Today, Shiny Toy Guns:
Since I mentioned them yesterday, I thought I’d fit them in here while the memory was fresh.
Anyway, while “You Are the One” is probably the most obvious song to pick from the band (except for possibly “Le Disko,” which I don’t care for), the main reason I went with it is because it’s honestly one of the very few songs from the band that resonated with me. See, while I really like “You Are the One,” I mostly don’t have an opinion on the rest of the band’s body of work, because, frankly speaking, it’s “okay” at the best of times. The first record, We Are Pilots, has a couple of decent standouts aside from “You Are the One,” such as “Starts With One” and the title track, but the follow-up record, Season of Poison, did nothing for me, outside of possibly “It Became A Lie On You,” and I mostly just… forgot about them until researching the Taco track.
Credit where it’s due, though, as “You Are the One” is still a really fun, interesting song, even years after the fact, and I can’t help but love it even now. Featuring an astonishingly solid 80’s aesthetic before that became the hip thing for musical acts to emulate, there’s a fun, energetic feeling to this song that is completely contrasted by the fairly morose lyrics, and I just can’t help but love the hell out of this song for simultaneously being ten years too early yet also slightly tone-deaf. It’s kind of amazing in its own way, and I just enjoy it way more than I probably should.