Random Song of the Day – 10/19/17

Today, Celldweller:

Yes, it’s more discussions about covers, but this one came up for a reason, so just work with me for a couple of days, yeah?

Now, I’m well aware that I’ve discussed Klayton Scott on this site far more often than any reasonable person would, between a repost of a record review, a Random Song of the Day, and mentioning his work while discussing Blue Stahli multiple times, but I like industrial music so it’s kind of a given that I end up hearing stuff from Scott since, well, Scott’s label Fixt makes a lot of industrial music. I’m also sure that, unless you’re a fan, you probably don’t care very much about his work either; while you’ve almost certainly heard the instrumentals of one of his tracks in a trailer for a film or game, it’s not likely you’re buying his records or anything, because nothing Fixt has released has gone platinum at this point.

Today (and for the next couple of days), though, I want to use Klayton as, essentially, a singular living example of the covers discussion I brought up earlier, due to a cover he released recently that sort of fulfilled the “HAHA HOLY SHIT” quotient. Technically speaking, I could’ve done this with Disturbed a while ago, but given the choice, Klayton is less likely to make people roll their eyes at me, so let’s go with this.

Up first is “Tragedy,” a single released under the Celldweller name over a decade ago (Klayton released this originally as a standalone single, but includes it on the Celldweller 10th Anniversary release, so assume it came out sometime around 2003-2004), which sharp-eyed readers will note I made fun of during the recap of my original review of the Celldweller record. Here’s the thing, though: with a decade’s space between the original release, as well as some consideration after the fact, I have to say it: this is probably a better song than the song it’s covering. Now, no disrespect to the Bee Gees, because screw you they were awesome, but if you don’t remember the original version of “Tragedy,” here’s a link.

Back with me? Okay, now I want you to note, this is meant to be a miserable song, TO THE POINT WHERE ITS NAME IS “TRAGEDY”, and then consider what tone Barry Gibb brings to this track. For most of the tracks in the band’s catalog, Barry is amazingly on point, but in this song? Yeah, I’m… not getting a sense of tragic despair from it. Compare that to the Celldweller version, and well, while the Bee Gees version might be more technically sound (as Klayton still had a major issue with overproduction at this point), the Celldweller version gets the tone spot-on and lays into it hard through the entire thing. Klayton sounds miserable, and it fits the song a lot more than Barry’s vocals do, as does the tone of the music backing up Klayton’s vocals.

So yeah, this is basically a wonderful cover from that perspective. The others that are coming? Not so much.

Random Song of the Day – 10/17/17

Today, Meg Myers:

Myers is a musician I ended up discovering, oddly enough, because a friend invited me to go to a concert, of which she was one of the performers. Now, we ended up not going to that concert (which was just as well, as Laura Palmer was the other performer, and I have… not figured out how I feel about Laura Palmer yet), but this ended up inspiring me to check out Myers independently, and damned if she isn’t really talented. I mean, in a broad sense I suppose that’d be obvious; I was, after all, considering going to see a live show featuring an artist I hadn’t figured out how to feel about yet, so you’d have to assume I think well of Myers or that I’m really stupid, but listen, I smoked for like two decades, so let’s not table the latter entirely, yeah?

Anyway, “Sorry” is the song I tend to like the most from Myers, but “Desire” is the song that’s probably most compelling to my mind, if only because Sorry is, frankly speaking, a bit obvious. “Sorry” is a good song, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a song about a relationship that failed, and it’s the sort of thing that basically anyone can wrap their head around. “Desire,” in comparison, is a raw, predatory song that feels more obsessive (on both the part of the singer and the listener) and primal in what it appeals to, and that’s harder to achieve than you’d expect without getting fairly experimental. It doesn’t quite get where I think Myers wants it to be, mind you, but honestly, it still works really well, and it’s a song I enjoy as much for what it’s trying to do as for what it successfully accomplishes.

Random Song of the Day – 10/16/17

Today, Digital Daggers:

Coming back to a prior statement, this is another band I discovered by going through an extended random YouTube play session, but unlike Icon for Hire, Digital Daggers not only seems to be very active (they have about nineteen releases on iTunes at the moment), but they also seem way more… comfortable in where they are as a musical group. I’m not just saying that because Icon for Hire started off as feeling similar to other acts in an oversaturated market, either; Digital Daggers feels like a band that has a cohesive vision and focus to their work that a lot of other bands, in general, take years to get to.

As an example, I picked “Spark” because it was the first song I discovered from the group, but honestly, you can go to Youtube right now, search for their name, and listen to anything from the band, and it all mostly feels like it’s from a band that understands what they’re trying to be and executes it perfectly. It’s almost certainly cliche to call something “haunting” at this point, but Digital Daggers manages to make the term feel reasonably appropriate, thanks to some really interesting vocal effects and song composition, and this is definitely an act that resonates in a way few truly manage to, to my mind.

Random Song of the Day – 10/13/17

Today, Breaking Benjamin:

We did Breaking Benjamin back in April of 2015, so I don’t have a lot to add to this; I mostly just found this while I was looking into covers of “Enjoy the Silence,” and I don’t hate it, honestly. I don’t think that Ben Burnley quite has the sort of voice to do this song as-is, and it’s still kind of a lazy cover, but it adds just enough to the song that you know it’s Breaking Benjamin doing the cover, and doesn’t shit the bed while doing so.

Plus, if anyone’s going to cover a semi-morose song about a relationship and do it reasonably well, it’s Burnley; see also the Breaking Benjamin cover of “Who Wants to Live Forever.” Dude’s basically the anti-Ville Valo.

(Aside: the cover of “Who Wants to Live Forever” I linked above is both a better and worse cover than this, I find; better because it makes more use of what makes Breaking Benjamin sound unique, worse because Ben has to compare to Freddy Mercury with the cover, which is a much harder bar for him to clear. In case you were curious.)

Random Song of the Day – 10/12/17

Today, Icon for Hire:

Sometimes, when I’m working, I like to let YouTube play songs for a while, just to see if I discover a new band I’d not heard of before in the process of allowing this to go on. Most of the time, I either end up finding tracks from bands I already like or garbage, but every so often I’ll hear something start up that I’ve never heard before and think, “Huh, this is pretty good,” and that’s the case with today’s pick, Icon for Hire. The band has apparently been around for five or six years now, but I honestly first heard anything from them a few days ago, when this track came up in a random play session, and it’s pretty good!

I mean, full disclosure: it sort of sounds like a pop-y version of what Evanescence was doing (or, alternately, a less saccharine Paramore), but honestly, I kind of like that, and there’s something really compelling about the song that I can’t really put into words. It’s also worth noting that, by all indications, the band has, in the past few years, turned from this into something a bit more electronically influenced (possibly because only the vocalist and guitarist are left at this point), which is also interesting, albeit for different reasons. They also apparently are considered, to use a term I picked up from Gloomchen, “Stealth Jesus,” IE worship music that doesn’t want to be considered worship music, but I like Skillet just fine and I haven’t started going to church so I suspect this isn’t going to convince anyone either.

Random Song of the Day – 10/11/17

Today, Sister Machine Gun:

The 90’s are something of a heyday for industrial music, due in no small part to the success of Trent Reznor during this period; when Nine Inch Nails took off and inspired a legion of disaffected kids who weren’t quite satisfied by the aesthetics of the grunge scene, it allowed for a number of artists, both new (Gravity Kills, God Lives Underwater) and established (KMFDM, Stabbing Westward) to rise up with NIN and create something of a notable public industrial movement for, like, five minutes in the 1990’s. It’s hard to say that industrial was ever truly popular in the strictest sense, as outside of a few major acts (Tool, NIN, Stabbing Westward), most industrial bands were decidedly underground sensations, but there was definitely enough interest such that, for a while, TVT records devoted a not insignificant amount of effort toward promoting such acts, including devoting a label to them (Wax Trax) and featuring songs from such bands on the Mortal Kombat soundtracks, both of which they produced.

Sister Machine Gun was one of the random bands that came from the Wax Trax label, and if I’m being honest, they’re one of my favorites.

Sister Machine Gun is basically the brainchild of musician Chris Randall, and while the name boasts eight records to its name, for the most part, you probably know of them (if you know of them at all) through one of two records: Burn, from which the song “Burn” comes (AKA the song featured on the Mortal Kombat soundtrack) and Metropolis, which is probably the best record ever released under this band name. It’s not that the other records are bad, but anything earlier than Burn is probably going to be hard to listen to due to lackluster equipment, and while later records deviate from the expected style a bit, they’re fine in their own way (though I’m still unsure how I feel about The Future Uninformed).

For my money, though, Metropolis is far and away the best record ever released by SMG, and for proof of that, I bring to you “Admit,” one of the best tracks from that record. It’s decidedly off-track from what people had come to expect from industrial at the time (well, mainstream industrial; God Lives Underwater was basically doing this sort of thing on the reg) but make no mistake, it’s pretty goddamn good. From the surprising violins in the intro to the exceptional composition of the track overall to Chris Randall’s unmistakable vocals and vocal effects, the song is representative of the aesthetic of SMG, without being really similar to anything else on the record.

Also I’m told that Randall used Metropolis as a proposal to his wife, so that’s cute.