Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Making Deals With the Devil

Metal has often been associated with Satan, specifically Death and Black Metal, as well as their specific subgenres. A lot of this has to do with the on of the bands of The Big Four, Slayer (The Big Four will be explained at a later point). Slayer has often been associated with the devil, ever since their controversial album cover from the album Reign in Blood. As a pioneer and influence in metal, Slayer has caused most metal bands to be associated with the devil, even though many metal bands either consist of Atheist of Agnostic band members. Now, here's the big thing: Satan is a religious character. In order for those to believe and worship Satan, they also have to believe in God, and vice versa. Now that we've cleared that up, let's clear up where the origin of the devil in music came from.

The traditional idea of the devil and "selling one's soul to the devil" in music can be dated back to the 1920s and 30s, with the legendary blues musician Robert Johnson. I wrote a paper on the history of Rock a few years back and blues was a major influence on rock music. Robert Johnson is a legendary figure. The legend of Robert Johnson was him starting as a struggling musician, then given a note to meet at the crossroads near his home at midnight. He met this tall and creepy-looking African-American male, often described to look like John Coffey from Stephen King's The Green Mile. This male is said to be the devil and gave Johnson an option. He would give Johnson mastery of the guitar if Johnson sold his soul to him. Johnson accepted and the devil took Johnson's guitar, tuned it and played a few songs. After, the guitar was returned to Johnson, he started his recording career. He recorded 29 songs in his career, with alternate takes of 12 of the songs. Johnson died at an early age of 27, after allegedly drinking a poisoned bottle of alcohol.

Now, here's the scary part. I recently went to my school's bookstore where I found a book about strange encounters or meetings with musicians. I was reading how the author was listening to the Complete Recordings of Robert Johnson, a 2 disc set containing all 41 recordings that are split into 20 songs on the first disc and 21 songs on the second. After the author finished listening, he forgot to turn off the CD player for nearly 20 minutes. That is, when a song listed as Track 30 started to play. Now, it didn't sound anything like any of the other songs, so it couldn't be an alternate take. After the author finished it, he put it into his computer to try to grab that song, and no matter what he did, it couldn't be found. When he tried to play the CD, track 30 was not found again. He eventually went to a friend's house who had a copy and they tried recording the song. The recording registered as having recorded something, but there was no sound. The author became obsessed, later finding that Eric Clapton was paying egregious amounts of money for each Complete Recordings. When he tried calling someone who knew Johnson, they hung up when the author asked about the 30th song. Kinda creepy if you ask me.

So the point of this entry was to talk about that nobody should classify any Metal band as a devil worshiper. Blues is where it started, and there's enough proof with the entire Robert Johnson fiasco that classic Blues is a genre that deals about Satan. Just something to think about. I believe that there are things science cannot explain, because this mysterious 30th song is just too weird to be real.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Endgame: How one band will change mainstream music

The Rolling Stones. The Who. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. Rise Against. Yes, the Melodic Hardcore Punk band is about to be on the same page as the household name rock bands out there. Chicago-based group Rise Against is close to releasing their next album, Endgame. The album is due to be released on March 15th, 2011. Now, I can already tell you this: it will be #1 on the Billboard 200. Just look at Rise's previous albums. The Sufferer and The Witness debuted at #10 on the 200. The following album, Appeal to Reason, debuted at #3 on the 200.

Now, music has had a major change recently. With Arcade taking home the Grammy for Best Album and Mumford and Sons securing the #1 album on several charts, top 40 music will definitely be changing. If Endgame debuts at #1, I can almost guarantee that rock and alternative will be the majority of the top 40 in the next decade. If you don't believe me, check out the two singles off of Rise's new album. "Help Is on The Way" and "Architects" are two amazing songs. Now, when I hear a song for the first time, I usually have to hear it a few more times to see if I like it or not. But when Tim McIlrath, the singer of Rise Against came onto the radio station KROQ to debut HIOTW, I knew something good was in store. It's not every day that a singer flies out to Los Angeles just so he can be there when their song comes on the radio. And it was a good choice. I was thoroughly impressed the first time I heard the song, which is saying a lot. Now, I just recently heard "Architects" and again, I was liked it the first time I heard it. We are talking about songs that definitely will be heard for some time all over the radio. So if you get a chance, go and check out the two singles. And if you like them, make sure to pick up a copy of Endgame on March 15th. Also, stay tuned for an album review, coming no later than March 16th. Keep enjoying music, everyone.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl XLV: A Super Failure

If any of you watched the halftime show at this year's Super Bowl, then you saw the Black Eyed Peas perform. Like I said in my previous post, Top 40 music is too processed and unnatural. The Black Eyed Peas had one of the most successful albums in 2009, titled The E.N.D. This album had several extremely successful hits, including "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling", two songs that were played at the halftime show. Now, it was an absolute mess of a show, showing that autotune is primarily put in songs to aid those who can't sing in tune, instead of just creating a robotic effect. In fact, the Peas had to bring in rapper Usher and legendary guitarist from Guns N' Roses, Slash, just to add a few seconds onto their already short show. Don't get me wrong, no band is given a great amount of time on the Super Bowl halftime show, but the Black Eyed Peas didn't complete one full song. It was either they felt they needed to rush through or they knew it'd be painful to sit through a full song. As it was, it was already hard enough to sit through their show.

Let's not forget Christina Aguilera's performance of America's national anthem. She. Forgot. A. Line. In. Our. National. Anthem. Now, normally I wouldn't care if someone forgot just one lyric, but when you are a Grammy-winning artist who needs to know every lyric for their shows normally, you shouldn't forget a line, especially one in the national anthem. That's just unprofessional.

By far, this was one of the worst halftime shows. If you think about the previous Super Bowls, there were a lot better artists. The past years have had legendary artists, such as The Who, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Prince, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and U2. Those were 7 of the artists from the past 10 Super Bowls, and all of them put on a better show than the Black Eyed Peas. That's just my opinion, but I'm sure most of you will agree, this year's Super Bowl was absolutely awful.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Underground, Indie and Unsigned.

I'm going to say it right now: most mainstream music isn't that good. I've never been able to keep up with Top 40 songs, since I mainly listen to satellite radio. In fact, I had never heard "Baby" by Justin Bieber until a random segment played in between skits at a student-run comedy show a couple weeks ago. I just like to follow the logic that I'd rather randomly hear it on the radio rather than specifically search for the song, to find out that I don't like it. Unfortunately, there are those people who just buy the #1 song because it's the #1 song, no other reason.

This brings me to my next point: unknown bands. It is already known that it takes a lot of talent to get signed. Hey, it takes a lot of talent to even get noticed these days. So you can imagine what it's like for bands on independent, or Indie labels go through. They want to be the next biggest thing but at the time the only label that will sign them is some startup label from some town nobody's heard of. So they take the opportunity, and soon they get known as the newest thing on the New Music Radar on Sirius XM's station Alt Nation. They could have a perfectly good song receiving good reviews, yet 99% of the world probably will never hear of them in their lifetime. Which is why people should listen to more Indie music, so they can get their name out there. Just think about a band such as Kings of Leon. 5 years ago, you could've asked almost anyone if they knew about KoL, and the response would've been "Who?" I remember when my dad told me about them and how he got their CD. He had heard them on the radio earlier that day and thought they were good enough to get a CD of theirs. It was Aha Shake Heartbreak, and my father and I still listen to it. But they were able to get that attention that got them to where they are today. Now, before you all go off about Indie music and not listening to it and all, well, there's more to Indie than just Indie rock. For each genre, there's its Indie equivalent. Some of it is called underground, so look for underground music, too.

In conclusion, give a lot of support to these Indie and unsigned bands. they might not be to the attention level they want, or they may have more attention than they need, who knows. So go check out an unsigned show. If you like them, chances are, you can meet them and maybe one day, you'll be friends with famous musicians. Oh, and in speaking of unsigned bands, be sure to check out a couple unsigned artists that I highly recommend. Check out Static Reply, a band that kinda reminds me a bit of Blink-182. But they are really good and deserve to get signed. Then, check out Davis Anson. He's a really good friend of mine and I think he's pretty good. Both of these artists you can find easily through either Facebook or MySpace. Until next time, music lovers.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why music is going downhill and how we can help.

Living in the dorms you are subject to hear a lot of different music at different hours in the night. While waiting in the dorm's hallway the other night, someone was blasting Waka Flocka Flame. Now, for those who don't know of him, Flocka is an awful rapper, yet somehow he manages to get attention. Now, I don't have a bias (at least, not a major one) so I can tell when someone is talented and when someone isn't. Flocka is not talented. If you compare him to someone like Lil Wayne, Weezy is obviously better. I'm not a fan of Wayne, but I will admit that he is talented. But recorded music has dramatically gone downhill in the past 100 years.

Let's talk about Robert Johnson. Best known as the man who allegedly sold his soul to the devil in order for his guitar to be tuned. He was considered legendary even back in the 20s and 30s. No doubt was he talented, just listen to Cross Road Blues or Hell Hound on My Trail and you can hear how well he plays guitar. What makes this great is that it's just a man and his acoustic guitar. No autotune, no electric instruments, in fact, no instruments besides his guitar and voice. Now, throw one of his songs up against a Top 40 song today. Half of what you are hearing in the song is computer-made. Drum machines. Autotune. Computer-generated effects. Now, I don't have a problem with echos added, that can sometimes make for a good sound. But when 90% of the sound is made by a computer keyboard instead of instruments, then we have a problem. So let's just try to go back to the time of Robert Johnson, where there were no fancy ways to enhance anything. Let's see one of you Top 40 artists release a song using just plain vocals, guitar, bass, REAL drums, and a REAL keyboard, nothing else. I'm putting my money on the top 40 artists only making okay songs.

So in conclusion, nobody knows good, authentic music anymore. Just compare Top 40 music now to Top 40 music in the 60s. Ke$ha vs. The Beatles. So this is a note to you upcoming musicians: LEARN HOW TO PLAY YOUR OWN INSTRUMENTS. Don't let the computers play instruments for you because you are too lazy. That's all.

What it is and why you should watch this.

Hey everyone, this is just an introductory post. My name is Spencer Bargas, but you can refer to me as Spence, DJ Special Blend, DJSB, or pretty much anything. I am a music addict, knowing more about music than the average person. I play guitar and am currently in college studying to go into medicine. But enough about me. Let's talk about the blog part of this.

Since I love music, it'd make sense for me to talk about music. So, that's what you should expect, is talk about music. It could be my opinion on a band, a rating on the newest album that just came out, or just me going off on random music related topics. But i'll keep it fun, I'll keep it interesting, and I'll make sure that it's something you will check multiple times a week. So, I hope you enjoy!