Month: June 2016

On A Friday

The alternative/indie rock scene of the 80’s and 90’s brought some incredible bands to the music world. Groups like The Smiths, The Cure, Nirvana, R.E.M., The Pixies, Weezer, Oasis, Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sonic Youth, and Depeche Mode ruled the scene. Their music still remains popular to this day. Another band on that list who I failed to mention just released their 9th album on May 8th (digital release only; physical release June 17th). Their music spans over the last three decades and surprise, surprise, like many other legendary bands, they’re from the U.K.

Radiohead was formed in 1985 while band members, Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, piano), Jonny Greenwood (guitar, keyboards, synth), Colin Greenwood (bass), Ed O’Brien (guitar, back-up vocals, percussion), and Philip Selway (drums, percussion, back-up vocals), attended Abingdon School in Abingdon, Oxfordshire together. At the time they decided to call their band On A Friday because they would get together to rehearse in the school’s music room on Fridays. The band stayed together while the boys attended University by rehearsing on weekends and holidays. It wasn’t until 1991 that they recorded their first demos and began playing shows. That same year the band signed a six album recording deal with EMI and changed their name per request of their label. The name Radiohead comes from The Talking Heads song “Radio Head”.

In 1992 Radiohead released their first EP, Drill. The EP did not have much chart success. Their first album Pablo Honey came out in February 1993 with the song “Creep” as the first single off the album. The song and album wasn’t received well. In fact, “Creep” was blacklisted by BBC Radio 1 for being “too depressing”. By early summer of that year though, “Creep” was receiving airplay internationally in Israel and on the west coast of the United States, which prompted the group to go overseas to play shows. Eventually the song reached the number 7 spot on the U.K. Singles Chart when it was re-released in September 1993 after its international success.

Radiohead’s second album The Bends was released in March of 1995. Prior to The Bends, they released an EP in late 1994 called My Iron Lung (it featured a song of the same name that was also on The Bends). Their second album finally gave them the success they were looking for in the U.K. Several singles from the album received chart success. However internationally their second album didn’t match up to the success of their first and particularly the single “Creep”. Nonetheless, the band was satisfied with the album’s reception and they toured the U.S. and Europe in support of R.E.M. following its release.

OK Computer, the band’s self-produced third album, was released in 1997. It’s arguably Radiohead’s best album to date and was compared to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon upon its release. The band received worldwide success with OK Computer including topping the U.K. albums chart, receiving a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album, and a nomination for Album of the Year. Since its release the album has gone triple platinum in the U.K., double platinum in the U.S., and multiple certification in other international markets.

Following OK Computer, Radiohead released Kid A in October 2000. The album received mixed reviews yet still received a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album and a nomination for Album of the Year much like its predecessor. Amnesiac was released a year and a half later in June 2001. The album topped U.K. music charts and reached the number two spot in the U.S. It also received a Grammy nomination and a Mercury Music Prize nomination.

Radiohead’s sixth album Hail to the Thief was released in June 2003. It debuted at number one on the U.K. music charts and reached the number three spot in the U.S. eventually going platinum and gold in each respective country. The album release also signaled the end for their contract with EMI. A month before the album release Radiohead embarked on a world tour which included a stop to headline the Glastonbury Festival. They finished by headlining Coachella. Radiohead played Glastonbury many times before their headlining performance in 2003, including their first time as a headliner in 1997 after the release of OK Computer, but 2004 marked the group’s first Coachella appearance (they made their return to Indio as a headliner in 2012).

Since 2003 Radiohead has released three more albums, In Rainbows, The King of Limbs, and most recently A Moon Shaped Pool. In Rainbows and The King of Limbs each received similar praises and awards as other Radiohead albums which included award nominations (and win for In Rainbows; 2009 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album) and high chart rankings. With Radiohead’s release of consistent musical masterpieces, A Moon Shaped Pool will probably follow suit to the many albums that came before it.

Radiohead’s music falls in the alternative rock/indie rock genres. Over the last 24 years, they’ve combined a bunch of other musical styles into their records such as electronic, jazz, and hip hop. However, even with influences from other music genres and their development over the years, their sound primarily suits the alternative/indie rock scene.

Radiohead is a legendary band for any person interested in alternative or indie rock. The first time I listened to any Radiohead songs pre-dated my indie/hipster days. I knew of the band, but never listened to any of their music until one of my high school friends suggested we cover “Creep” while we were together playing music on our spring break. Then in 2011 once I hit my hipster era I began listening to more of their music. Even then though, my Radiohead music collection was limited. It still is despite receiving Pablo Honey on vinyl from a friend for Christmas one year (you think that would have made me want to get all their albums). However, I believe Radiohead is one of the best indie rock bands ever and Thom Yorke (primary song writer) is a genius. I feel like every time I’m introduced to a new Radiohead song I end up liking it. I’d love to see them live some day. I hear they’re amazing live, but they’re pretty amazing in general so that’s not hard to believe. They’ve come a long way since those Fridays in the music room. If you’ve never listened to Radiohead and are now curious about this incredible rock band, please check out these songs:

  1. High And Dry
  2. Just
  3. 15 Step
  4. Thinking About You
  5. Creep
  6. Karma Police
  7. Talk Show Host
  8. No Surprises
  9. Fake Plastic Trees
  10. Burn the Witch
  11. Nude
  12. There, There
  13. Everything In Its Right Place
  14. Paranoid Android
  15. Pyramid Song
Advertisements

Streetlight Manifesto

Within the last two years since I started this blog I’ve written about many bands, specifically ones that I find appealing. If you’ve been following for a while, you know my music tastes have changed over the years and you also know the bands that brought about those changes. More often than not though, I write about bands that I currently like with a few old band interests thrown in every once in a while. However I’m surprised I’ve never once written about any ska bands (unless you count Rancid since they have a few ska songs).

Although I had heard ska songs before, I became more interested in that style of music as a junior in high school. A friend of mine made me a mix tape that included several ska songs because he loved ska music. We ended up becoming best friends throughout our senior year (even forming a band) and my love of ska music grew. One of the first ska bands I was ever interested in, dating back to that junior year mix tape, was Streetlight Manifesto.

Streetlight Manifesto out of New Brunswick, New Jersey was formed in 2002. The band came together when Tom Kalnoky of the band Catch 22 decided to recruit other members of Catch 22 and members from the band One Cool Guy to make music together. The band initially recorded an EP under the name Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution before they began releasing music as Streetlight Manifesto. Streetlight’s first album Everything Goes Numb was released on August 26, 2003. The group’s second album was a re-recorded re-release of the Catch 22 album Keasbey Nights. The new Keasbey Nights featured a few musical and lyrical changes from the Catch 22 version. It was released in 2006.

In November 2007, Streetlight Manifesto’s third album Somewhere in the Between was released. The album featured all original tracks by the band much like their first album. The band then released a collaborative project album with Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution (BOTAR had many of the same members as the original Streetlight Manifesto lineup) that included an album consisting entirely of covering songs in 2010. The project was called 99 Songs of Revolution. The band’s most recent album, The Hands That Thieve, came out in 2013. Throughout the years Streetlight Manifesto’s lineup has changed multiple times with founder Tomas Kalnoky being the only original member. Recently the band experienced legal issues with their label Victory Records after a few years of bad relations. In October 2015 it was reported that Victory Records filed a lawsuit against Kalnoky for not fulfilling their record deal of releasing four albums under the label.

Streetlight Manifesto plays a ska punk style of ska music. Ska music originated in Jamaica in the 1950’s. Reggae, which is typically associated with Jamaica, was derived from ska music. The style combines elements of Jamaican folk music, known as mento, and Afro-Caribbean calypso with American jazz and R&B. A distinguishing factor of ska is a walking bass line with accented rhythms on the upbeat. Another distinguishable trait of ska is the use of horns like trumpets, trombones, and saxophones. Streetlight’s style combines ska with fast-paced punk rock similar to the style of bands like Rancid, Goldfinger, The Suicide Machines, Less Than Jake, and Reel Big Fish.

Aside from the legal dealings, Streetlight Manifesto has been non-existent in the music scene for the past few years. They’ve also been sort of non-existent from my life for the last 5 years or so. By the end of high school and through college, I listened to Streetlight Manifesto and plenty of ska bands. Then indie music happened and my ska punk days faded away. Even though I don’t listen to Streetlight Manifesto regularly anymore, I still appreciate them and the fact that they are a part of my music history. As I wrote this post, I listened to several of my favorite old Streetlight songs. I sang along like I used to 6-9 years ago and almost had the desire to get up and skank (a style of dance used when dancing to ska music). Here’s a few of the songs I listened to and some you need to check out because Streetlight Manifesto is one of the best ska bands around:

  1. Keasbey Nights
  2. Point/Counterpoint
  3. On & On & On
  4. We Are the Few
  5. The Big Sleep
  6. The Three of Us
  7. Dear Sergio
  8. We Will Fall Together
  9. Somewhere in the Between
  10. Everything Went Numb

 

Champions Again

I rarely write about sports on this blog anymore unless it involves women’s soccer. I mostly cover music. It’s what I’m most passionate about. Last night though, something that doesn’t happen very often occurred in the sports world giving me an opportunity to write about another sport for a change. My favorite NHL team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, won the Stanley Cup, the NHL’s Championship trophy.

Whether you know or not, I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. I became a Pittsburgh Penguins fan by default. I grew up watching their AHL (minor league hockey) affiliate play in my hometown. I had season tickets to watch the team for many years and attended games regularly throughout middle school, high school, college, and even a few years after. I watched players develop and make it to the NHL. Then, I cheered them on as they played in the Burgh. In the fall of 2008, I made it out to Pittsburgh to see my first NHL game and returned yearly for games each fall through 2012 (I was even out there twice within a few months one year for two different hockey events). I explored Pittsburgh more and more each visit, falling in love with the Steel City. Since 2012, I returned to Pittsburgh three more times, once for a mini summer vacation trip and twice to see the Penguins play. The most recent visit was a mere three weeks ago to watch the Penguins play Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the first Stanley Cup Playoff game I had ever seen. I was pumped to attend, but probably not as excited as I would have been a few years ago when I was much more emotionally invested in the Penguins and hockey in general. I’m still so glad it occurred during this Championship run. Enough about me though. Let’s focus on the Penguins for a second. They’re the real champs right now.

Last evening at the SAP Center (aka The Shark Tank) in San Jose, CA, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to win the best of seven series 4-2 and hoist the Stanley Cup for the 4th time in franchise history (1991, 1992, 2009 were the other three championship years). Pittsburgh’s goals were scored by Brian Dumolin (power play goal, assists by Justin Schultz and Chris Kunitz, 1st period at 8:16), Kris Letang (game-winner, assists by Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary, 2nd period at 7:46), and Patric Hornqvist (empty net goal, assist by Sidney Crosby, 3rd period at 18:58). Logan Couture had the lone tally for San Jose when he tied the game at 1 apiece in the second period. Couture’s goal came 79 seconds before the eventual game-winner by Letang.

To win the Stanley Cup the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Rangers in the first round in 5 games, the President’s Trophy (given to the NHL team with the best record in the regular season) winning Washington Capitals in the second round in 6 games, and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final in 7 games before winning the series against the Sharks last night. The last time the Penguins won the Stanley Cup was exactly 7 years earlier on June 12, 2009 against the Detroit Red Wings. Only 7 members of the current Penguins roster were part of the 2009 squad who hoisted the cup after Game 7 in Detroit. Several members of the Pittsburgh Penguins roster, including playoff regulars, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Matt Murray, began the season with team’s AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The rookies played an integral part in Pittsburgh’s championship run making it an organizational victory from top to bottom. Of the 20 players who suited up for Pittsburgh during last night’s cup clinching game, 17 spent significant time in the AHL (significant being defined as 10 or more games). 8 of the 17 spent significant time with Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate.

I watched all 8 of those 17 players develop at some point making it pretty amazing to watch them lift the cup last night, especially the rookies who are only in their early 20’s (Murray just turned 22, unreal!). When the Pen’s won the cup in 2009, I had a much different feeling watching them win. I watched many of them grow in the AHL as well, but at the time I was younger and they were older. I looked up to those guys. Plus I never saw my favorite hockey team win a championship before (the AHL team never wins championships). This time felt more like a proud mom moment. All the guys I watched develop last year and the year before are a few years younger than me. I don’t see them in the same way as I did with the guys in 2009 and I already knew what it felt like to win a championship. My celebration wasn’t as wild. I didn’t run around the house screaming. I wasn’t out of breath. Part of the reason is also because I don’t watch hockey the same way. For years, hockey took up so much of my time. Within the last few years, I wanted to move on from hockey and focus on my life and achieve my goals. Hockey was just a form of entertainment for me. I became a more casual fan and stopped attending games regularly. It’s more fun that way now. I just enjoy watching the sport. It’s a pretty exciting sport too and great to watch when working out. Overall, I’m just free to focus on me, which is my priority anyway.

No matter what though, the Pittsburgh Penguins will always be my favorite hockey team. I grew up as Penguins fan and I have no doubt my allegiance will stick with me no matter where I go or what I do. When the Pens go on a playoff run, I’ll always support them just as I did this spring and last night. Since they actually won the cup during this run, it’s time to celebrate the championship. Way to go Pittsburgh! Let’s Go Pens! Party hard!

019325978_30300