Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Chocolatey Twerky Metal!

Well it looks like the metal scene is trying to be a bit more inclusive as of late, which is weird because until only a few years ago metal sort of just kept to itself. However, with the late September release of American metal band, Mastodon's new video "The Motherload" we see some new moves thrown in with the traditional Headbanging. People could argue that this is just reverse Headbanging but the dancers in this video are most definitely twerking. 

Now twerking has become a huge cultural phenomenon which has been part of many music scenes for years now but only really caught the eye of mainstream media when Miley Cyrus let loose at the 2013 VMAs. (And if you've been living under a rock for the past year, here is the performance in question.) In light of this video, all I can say is, here's hoping for a Mastodon/Major Lazer collaboration! 

Now what's even more inclusive is Japanese "Idol Metal" band, BABYMETAL! BABYMETAL is an attempt at combining the Japanese "Idol" genre with that of metal. Now for those of you who don't know, I did some research into "Idol" and found that it is something we have very prominently in the West, but we just don't have a name for it. "Idol" refers to a manufactured group or solo act of young (Sometimes very young) attractive stars or starlets who sing and dance. These groups are very similar to our Boy Bands or Girl Bands like One Direction, The Backstreet Boys or Atomic Kitten (Man I used to love Atomic Kitten!)

BABYMETAL started out in 2010 and only in early 2014 did they release their debut self titled album "BABYMETAL". Their sound has been designed to make Metal appeal to the teen and preteen Idol/J-Pop audience, and they seem to have done a damn good job of it peaking on charts across the glob and even reaching Number 1 on the US World Album Bilboard charts. The market reasoning behind BABYMETAL is that this is a completely untapped market. I kinda remember the Adult Swim show "Metalocalypse" doing a very similar thing... But for fish.


In BABYMETAL's live music video, "Gimme Chocolate" we can see exactly what the band is all about, but at the same time it raises more questions like, is that Mary in the background? What on earth could 3 teenagers have to say about chocolate for an entire 4 minute song? And what are the backing band wearing?

I personally think the video is great and I really hope it blows up on the web the way Gangnam Style did. I'm also loving the new Mastodon video, if not just for it's weirdness. Here's a link to a great article where one of the dancer's gives her insight into what it was like to actually be in the video and of course the controversy surrounding the video. Because you know how metal heads don't like change.

Thanks a lot for the read, if this gets any attention I'll try and return my interests to this blog and maybe make something really cool out of it.

For those of you who didn't get my hilarious Major Lazer reference, watch this but be warned, it's kinda fucked up. Major Lazer- Pon De Floor

Xtian Zzyzx


Monday, 21 October 2013

One Hell of a Year- Part 1

I know I just made a post, but I had a thought that I could do a sort of personal blog, still focusing on music, but in the context of my personal life. Like a diary except online, where all of you can read my deep dark thoughts. All like, 10 of you... This decision has kinda just come off the heel of me thinking I need to write more and what better way to do it than to tell strangers about my life.

So it's been a kinda crazy year. I've been doing my last year of school, I turned 18 (legal drinking age, woop), I've grown a lot, and my music tastes have grown with me. It's actually been a really good year for music, international acts don't often come to South Africa but this year quite a few did. Lets see... There was The Red Hot Chili Peppers in Feb. They were really good. They are truly solid live. However it could have all been an illusion due to altitude sickness. We had really shitty seats, quite high up. The one bummer was that they didn't play Scar Tissue. Die Antwoord opened for them but I feel like I'd be lying if I said I saw them live, 'CAUSE THE WERE SO FUCKING FAR AWAY!!!

Then in March there was RamFest 2013. Most people will say they went for Bring Me the Horizon and Rise Against, but I couldn't care less about BMTH and I left before Rise Against. Now that may sound extremely lame, me not staying for the headliners, but I had a fucking crazy time! I went for Pendulum. They are probably my favourite DnB group and they were pretty much the only reason I bought a ticket. Now for all of you who don't know RamFest, it's a 3 day fest with 3 stages. The Main Stage with mostly rock and metal acts. The indie stage (Don't know what it's really called, couldn't be bothered to even care about that stage), it's more like a tiny ass marquee than a stage. That's where all the up and coming bands play. All the ones who can't draw crowds but kinda knew a dude in management who was like, "yeah sure man, I can get you a set at Ramfest!"... cute. Then there's the Electronic Stage which is where I was the whole day. Well there and the beer tent. Now not that I don't love rock and metal, I really do, but the bands on the main stage kinda sucked this year and so for me it was all about the Electronic stage, which was AMAZING! This is where I first learnt that the more crazy you dance, the more free drinks you get. Even if you're a guy.

Then April was Metallica. Holy shit that was an experience. I've always loved Metallica and I know that the general consensus on the internet is that Metallica sucks, but I love them and always will, so... There. They played a solid set with all the classics and this time I know for sure I saw them, 'cause I was in Golden Circle. After moshing, partying and what not, one of my friends decides to drag me along to the front of the crowd where we can see better. The front is usually empty at these kinds of shows as Metallica were so loud it hurt. But due to a fair amount of Alcohol it didn't matter really. However, my friend ditched me so for most of the second half of the concert I was by myself, but don't think that that was a bad thing. It was what helped make the concert such a spiritual experience for me.

Let me explain. Before this, my Grandmother had been suffering for a very long time with cancer, and a few days before the concert, she tragically passed away. However, my family being the forever supportive and UNIMAGINABLY loving people they are, postponed the funeral 1 day so I could go see Metallica.
Now back to the concert. There I am, alone in golden circle with quite a lot of space around me, the unbearable loudness keeping everyone away from me and all of a sudden, I feel quite overwhelmed with emotion. Love for my family and Grandmother, love for this music, this insane realization of where I am and then sadness from my family's loss. This is when they play  Nothing Else Matters, and it becomes too much. This was the first time I cried about my Grandmother. Through tears and sweat and pain and anger and sadness and love, I scream the lyrics along with the tens of thousands of people around me. I cry and it helps. It was Metallica that helped me come to peace with my Grans passing, and it is when the song ends that I wipe the tears off my face and a man in a trench coat, with long hair and tattoos comes up, puts his arm around my shoulders and says to me, "Tonight, you're a fucking legend."

I did see other bands this year, honestly I saw better bands this year, and in later posts I'll talk about those too, but it was at Metallica, along with thousands of other people that I TRULY felt the awesome and overwhelming power of music.

Thank you for the read, Plug in Your Head
Xtian Zzyzx

Me and Monstercat

Holy shit... It's been a year since my last post. Alright, time to fix that. I can't honestly tell you why I haven't posted in such a long time, one could argue that it's because I've been busy with school work, my thriving social life (yeah right), or any number of things that could suffice for a good excuse. But to be honest, I was just lazy... Am just lazy. But I've decided I'll try post a for a while and if it gains any interest I'll start it up full time again!

Now here's the tricky part, I have no idea what to talk about, see when I do these things I like to talk about music that's new to me, but I've discovered so much music in the last year I have no idea where to start! The thing is, (now I'm not sure if it's just me) I can go from listening to Deep House and EDM to Classical to Swing to Hip-Hop to Metal in the space of a day, and that does in fact happen to me all the time, 'cause I don't listen to music depending on my mood, I kinda listen to music depending on the mood I wanna be in. So now, I'm listening to EDM 'cause I kinda had a downer of a day and I wanna be more up beat. So I guess... Let's talk about that.

EDM, being Electronic Dance Music, can come in a variable smorgasbord of forms, from House to Dubstep. From Disco to Drum n Bass. Now there is this kickass YouTube channel a friend of mine showed me a while ago called MosterCat Music. They are an indie record label who sign some pretty amazing producers, and it never ceases to amaze me how many types of EDM these dudes cover!

For me, it all started with a song called Flight, by Tristam and Braken.  My friends showed it to me and I think they came upon this song through a gaming YouTube channel (I can't say which one). Anyway, they played me this song, and it starts out with a phenomenally catchy melody which slowly builds up til the drums come in. This melody gets stuck in my head so easily it's fucking ridiculous!

Now this is not Dubstep, nor is it Drum n Bass, this is... Wait for it... Seriously it's good... Drumstep. ugh. Now despite the lack of originality in the naming process, Drumstep is quite an awesome thing. Now all Drumstep is, is DnB, only half time.

This new love-child of Dub and DnB was my first experience with Mostercat. After that I found that they have some really great playlists on their channel with music (divided into genre) from all their signed artists. Now if you have the internet speed and cap, I totally suggest checking these out.

Now I'm onto the more varied stuff. They release albums of all the best recent music from their signees and what separates these albums from other Electronic mix albums is that it doesn't stick to one genre. It really does go from DnB to Disco to House to Dub. It's crazy but the weirdest thing is that it all works! It's mixed extremely well and the flow from one genre to another isn't disjointed.

So I guess if you really wanna know what's going on with music lately for me that's it... Seeing as that is literally what I'm listening to right now. The albums by themselves are good but from what I've heard they aren't amazing. What's really good are the playlists on the YouTube channel. So go check them out!

I can't pretend to like this post. Honestly I think it's shit. But I know that with time I'll get back into writing these and they'll be good. In the mean time just pretend to like them. It doesn't even have to be a very good effort at pretending to like it, but these posts are fueled by my misguided ego and it's notions that I'm a decent writer.

So tell me what you think of Mostercat Music. Recommend to me some of your favourite Electronic music, or hell any music at all. I read all the comments. Also if you want me to talk about something you're into, tell me.

Thanks for the read, until next time, Plug in Your Head.
Xtian Zzyzx

Thursday, 11 October 2012

A Month of Musical Discovery

I think in recent weeks I have been exposed to more new music than I have ever before. These last few weeks in fact have been the most musical I have had in awhile! So lets jet into it!

Now, I have never mentioned this on my blog before, but I am a hardcore gamer. Besides music and writing, it's what takes over most of my free time. So I have been playing Guild Wars 2, and this has, oddly enough, brought a lot of music to my attention. The music score for Guild Wars 2 was written by, Jeremy Soule who has produced some of the greatest video game scores of all time. From Icewind Dale to most of the Elder Scrolls series including Skyrim and of course the original Guild Wars sound track.

This sound track is possibly the best I have ever heard with an epic and beautiful sound, it's no surprise he's called, "the John Williams of Video Games." You should definitely check out the Sylvari theme, Fear not this Night featuring vocals by Asja. The piano melody in this song carries her voice beautifully.

Now as this is an MMORPG, (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) you play with thousands, even millions of people around the world and form groups called "Guilds". Now I fell into a group of Thieves and Guardians from Iceland, and my new friends introduced me to some Icelandic grown musos! (No. Not Bjork. Never Bjork.)

Among this list is an indie band called, Jeff Who? They. Are. Awesome. With an 80's sound mixed with modern day badassery, they caught my attention and were all I could listen to for a week straight! I recommend checking out the song Barfly. The song is catchy as hell and its definitely the highlight of the album.

Moving right along, I came across Iron and Wine's album The Shepherd's Dog. They aren't that unknown, but if you haven't heard them, I suggest checking them out! Their harmonies are rivaled only by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. This bluesy, country-esque band are sure to lull you to a blissful state. (They have made me very unproductive due to this.)

A friend from college introduced me to Folk duo, The Civil Wars and they are by far the most interesting group on the list. As male and female vocal duo from Nashville, Tennessee, one would assume they would have strong country influence. One would be right, and whilst I generally have very little interest in country, this month I have been surprised by them and I&W. By threat of a kick it the shins I have been ordered to note that my good friend Faith Honey first introduced me to this band and so, I thank you! She is an amazing writer, producing fantastic short stories. Her blog is down at the moment unfortunately, but I will be sure to link to it when it's up, because she is extremely talented.

Check out The Civil Wars' cover of Billie Jean by Micheal Jackson. I do believe the rhinestone glove has been passed onto another, so to speak. This version can only really be described as sexy. Very very sexy! As are the members of this band! Joy Williams being absolutely stunning, and John Paul White looking like Johnny Depp. Their harmonies in this song are astounding and it blows my mind that they can get it THAT RIGHT, live and without in ear monitors!

So besides my iPod being pick-pocketed, this past month has been an awesome one for music and I hope you all enjoy my huge recommended list. I do hope to review them all in more depth at a later stage. I'm also planning on reviewing Billy Talent's new album, Dead Silence. New Offspring and Blink 182's November 2011 album, Neighborhoods.

That project I've been working on will be coming to fruition soon so stay tuned for that!

But until then, thanks for reading and Plug in Your Head.
Xtian Zzyzx.

(Guild Wars 2) Jeremy Soule and Asja- Fear not this Night
Jeff Who?-Barfly
Iron and Wine- Boy with a Coin (Bad quality, sorry)
The Civil Wars- Billie Jean

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Uno!

So as many of you all may know, I am a hardcore Green Day fan. I have practically everything they've ever done... Ever. So as one would assume, that when I heard that the iconic Pop Punk where coming out with not only 1 but 3 new albums all in quick succession I would freak out! I did not... And here's why.

This is a gimick! It's supposed to get people talking, and it will get the record company SHITLOADS of money. Ontop of that, how can a band record 3 albums worth of good material all at once? Well to be honest, they didn't. Uno, the first installment of the 3 is pretty fucking bad! Well... No... But Yes!... Um... Let me explain.

This album contains some of the greatest material they have ever written! Nuclear Family, the fist song on the album is one hell of a way to start of an album! With fast riffs and a very upbeat and happy tone to it. Same goes for track 2, Stay the Night and well... every song on the album... It's all kinda the same... And between all the great songs that all sound the same, there is some absolute shit that all sounds the same!

The third track Carpe Diem was possibly the most disappointing song on the album in my opinion because it starts as a huge blast to the past, this could fit perfectly on Shenanigans! But then the chorus comes in, and it is so sloppy and lazy! It's like they wanted to get the writing process over and done with as quickly as they could with a half-assed chord progression that just doesn't gel well with the lyrics. I really feel that they could have put a little more effort into this song particularly, it could have been great!

Onto Track 4, Let Yourself Go this is where I start seeing a bad trend in this album. Now I want to make it clear that I love the song, but there is something wrong with the lyrics, the word fuck. There is such a thing as way too much swearing and between this song and Track 5, Kill the DJ there is way too much use of the word fuck! What are they trying to prove? That they have a poor vocabulary? Well we all know they don't, but if these were the two songs I'd heard from them first I wouldn't have been so sure. Kill The DJ goes for a very interesting disco sound and while I like the song musically, the lyrics are bad. There is very little to no use of poetic imagery and it is just crude and violent.

The next 3 songs, Fell for You, Loss of Control and Troublemaker, are the reasons I find it hard to like this album, Fell for You has some of the most cheesy lyrics I have ever heard,
"I had a dream that I kissed your lips and it felt so true
Then I woke up as a nervous wreck and I fell for you."
I know they can do better.

While Loss of Control isn't BAD, it doesn't work with the flow of the album, I think it should have been put somewhere else in the album. I actually kinda like the song itself, it has a very retro 60's/70's Power Pop sound which seems to be a theme in this album as it can be heard again most prominently in Sweet 16 and Kill the DJ.

The lyrics in Troublemaker are just awful and I feel that song along with the first single off the album, Oh Love have no place in this album. The lyrics in Troublemaker make no sense and are really just sloppy.

Sweet 16 is quite an interesting song, I read somewhere that it was influenced by The Beach Boys, which is a very obvious sound. The song reminds me a lot of their old music and yet there is something different about it. It... Sounds like Summer, much like The Beach Boys.

Finally Oh Love, now many of you should have heard this song as it was the single. I personally hate this song but I understand why it's there. Oh Love is made to be played live, with the muted guitar in the intro for the audience to clap along to and the overly long intro is used to psych up the crowd. All I can say is that I can't wait for the live version.

Now when I said in the beginning that this album is pretty fucking bad, I meant that this album is pretty fucking bad FOR A GREEN DAY ALBUM. If it was any other band I would forgive the things they did wrong. Much like Blink 182's Neighborhoods released last November. I think the band should've put more into the writing process and should have taken all the crap out of the albums, (As I assume there will be more crap to come) and made a 2 CD album with all the good stuff.

But for now all we can do is sit and wait for Dos and Tre.

Thanks so much for reading and until next time, Turn up the Volume and Plug in Your Head

Xtian Zzyzx

Monday, 10 September 2012

A Return to the Blogosphere

Hey all, I'm back and yes this time it's for real. I have taken an 8 month hiatus from Plug in Your Head and for that I am desperately sorry, but my personal life took a dive and then I sort of just forgot about Plug in Your Head in general. But I am here to make amends.

I'd like to talk rather about MY music life and what's going on in it for a little while, but I can't say for sure how often I will be doing Plug in Your Head at the moment, but there is a new very exciting project I will be working on soon that I will let you all in on as soon as it all gets finalized.

So many of my friends at college are writing exams, which means that a lot of the time I am alone now, but that's alright because the weather here in the Southern Hemisphere is is finally turning right. After the first snow seen in the greater Johannesburg area in the last 20 years blanketed the CBD last month, it is finally warming up! So with this new found spare time and warm weather, I have found myself sitting in the sun and listening to music fairly often. This happened today for instance when I put my head phones on, (Plugged in my Head if you will) closed my eyes and got lost in Bob Dylan's, Highway 61 Revisited. 

This truly is a masterpiece of music. Dylan sure as hell can write fantastic lyrics! This is one of the very rare albums that make me completely devote my attention to the lyrics all the way through. Yes the lyrics aren't sung particularly well, as Dylan's voice sounds like something in a lot of pain, but if Desolation Row doesn't make your top 20 best songs of all time, I don't know what will.

For those fans of more recent rock, My Chemical Romance released their cover of Desolation Row in 2009 for the soundtrack of The Watchmen. This movie is fantastic by the way and is very true to the Comic Book. This song is much shorter and VERY different to the original, but it's still pretty good.

But I digress. As my eyes were closed for well on 30 minutes I didn't realise what was going on around me, so when I finally did open my eyes after the 11:22 Minute EPIC that is Desolation Row, I found that I had been joined by a large group of my friends who were seated next to me and all in deep conversation!

So the sun, Bob Dylan and Neil Young's After the Goldrush (Which I failed to mention) made for a pretty good early afternoon!

I'd definitely  recommend both of these albums, they are classics for a reason. Links to some of the music mentioned are at the bottom.

This has been another Plug In Your Head, after way too long.
So until next time, turn up the volume and Plug in Your Head!

Xtian Zzyzx

tl;dr- Bob Dylan, Neil Young, My Chemical Romance and The Weather. And I'm back!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Massive Attack - Heligoland

Article first published as Music Review: Massive Attack - Heligoland on Blogcritics.
Massive Attack are widely referred to as the founders of the early '90s U.K. wave of music known as Trip-Hop. They seem to fuse together different aspects of several genres of music, including House, Electronic, Dance, Hip-Hop and even Progressive and Experimental Rock. The truly unique aspect of Massive Attack is that they are able to gel all these aspects into a fusion in which these become one without the loss of any listening pleasure due to extreme experimentation.
The efforts of Heligoland are shared between the duo who make up Massive Attack and six other artists who are featured throughout the album. And whilst so many contributing artists can often lead to several challenges, Heligoland never seems to stray too far from the original tone and at the same time doesn't become repetitive.
Heligoland lends itself to the eerier side of music which comes across especially in songs like "Rush Minute," "Atlas Air" and "Paradise Circus," which featured in the soundtracks of the TV series Misfits, Luther, True Blood and Gossip Girl. The album also relies on the heavy presence of a main melody specifically in "Psyche," in which a sampled picked guitar sound is heard throughout the entire song. However, several changes are made to the melody throughout the song, ranging from volume change to an increase of a reverb effect which results in different atmospheres being introduced throughout the song without changing the notes played. This is a very creative and yet simple production element which allows the music to create a climax or even suspense without relying on lyrics or other instruments.
As with most electronic music, the bass and drum sounds are very important and act as the foundation of the song. Heligoland is no exception to the rule, even in the track "Paradise Circus," where these aspects are very simple. But it's the simplicity of the bass and drum sounds that makes the song so noticeably unique. The effect of the music, topped with vocals done by Hope Sandoval make this song haunting and is possibly the most memorable track on the album.
Where this style of music could easily turn to a self-indulgent tangent of the artists, it is still captivating and enjoyable throughout. I'd advise listening to this album not expecting a fusion of multiple genres and especially not expecting one genre to dominate because this album simply cannot be classified as any genre other than Trip-Hop and that is what I feel makes this album so unique.
This album has introduced creativity and complete originality into a music industry where both are lacking. And saying that I would highly recommend giving Heligoland a listen.
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