Saturday, 22 October 2011

Sage Francis- "Going back to Rehab" Our Generations Bob Dylan?

Article first published as Music Review: Sage Francis - "Going Back to Rehab" on Blogcritics.

I’m gonna try something a little different today. Plug in Your Head- Track Review! And the track in question is Sage Francis’ “Going Back to rehab,” from the album, Human Death Dance.

Sage Francis is an “indie” rapper and the only hip-hop act signed to Epitaph Records. He’s by far my favourite rapper and possibly the best artist I have come across recently.

One of the things I love about Sage Francis is his use of a live band rather than an entirely computerised backing track. This gives a lot more emotion to his music, and "Going Back to Rehab" in particular wouldn’t sound the same or have the same emotional impact without it.

The picked guitar in the beginning, together with Sage’s voice sets a mood that the flow of his words and the instrumental progression build on throughout the song, making it an epic, emotional journey.
The song starts with a voice reading out an alphabetical list of drug names. The voice then starts to fade out with an increasing reverb effect. Once the voice has been drowned out, Sage starts rapping.

The lyrics in this song are nothing short of art. Most people have forgotten that RAP stands for Rhythm And Poetry, but I believe that Sage Francis is exactly what we all need to remind us of this. I would even go as far as saying that he’s our generation's Bob Dylan. And that’s a bold claim!
When the chorus comes in, the song starts to fill out. Piano, violin and drums are added to the mix before the drums drop out a few barres into the second verse.

Around the four-minute mark in the song, it sounds as if the track is over. However, the first verse is then repeated with the vocals mixed into the background, almost joining the music in a way that makes them sound like another instrument or a sample. As the verse ends, the whole band, including the drums come back with the addition of the voice we heard in the beginning of the song, which finishes reading the list of drugs. So the song ends as it began, like a reprise.

This is the kind of song you can listen to with the lights off and your eyes closed. It absorbs you until there is nothing but the music. Mainstream rappers can take a page from Sage’s book and be reminded of the beauty that can come from this genre.

Even if you don’t like rap, give Sage Francis a listen. He is an artist in every sense of the word, and you won’t regret it.

Here's a Link to Sage Francis- "Going Back to Rehab" on

So Until Next Time, Turn Up the Volume and Plug in Your Head

Xtian Zzyzx

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Stone Sour- Come What(Ever) May

I 100% support artistic freedom and therefore I find a musician having more than one band or "Project" as they smugly call them a great idea. But what annoys me is when people pretend to know what they're talking about when talking about these other "projects" when they clearly don't. And now to the point I was about to make. Stone Sour IS NOT Corey Taylor and Jim Roots "Other Band"! Slipknot is. Stone Sour was formed first and so I maintain that Slipknot is the "Other Band."
Pedantic Ranting 1. Know it alls 0

Come What(Ever) May is possibly my favourite Hard Rock album out there. Mostly because most bands who call themselves "Hard Rock" SUCK! Unfortunately this rule also applies to Stone Sour because honestly, this is their only good album. The only creditability that their Self Titled album has is that, the single "Bother" was on the Spiderman sound track. Woopdy-Fucking-Hoo! And Audio Secrecy just... Isn't very good. So I guess this band is the Album equivalent of a One-Hit-Wonder. 

The album starts out with the cheesiest Hard Rock cliché I know of! An angry down-tuned guitar riff that tries to say, "Hey look! We've changed! We're metal now!" And then the lyrics come in and I can imagine Corey Taylor on a golf course with cocktail in hand saying, "Just Kidding!" But to be fair, as a Hard Rock song, 30/30-150 is a good song. Even though I have no Idea what a 30/30-150 is and what exactly this numeric value possibly has to "Hate" other than possibly 30/30-151! Smug bastard, always just a little better than him.

Then Track 2, the title song, Come What(Ever) May also seems to try and be (me)tal. But in the way Nickle(back) try to be (me)tal... Badly. AND WHAT'S WITH THE B(RACK)ETS!?
It seems as if this album is desperately trying to be something it's not. It should just get over itself because then everyone will "love you for you!" as Dr. Phil would say. 
The lyrics in this song make no sense and I know I may be nit-picking by this point but surely in the lyric.
"You Want the World to be free?
What the fuck is free about it!?"
The person who "Wants the world to be free" knows that it isn't free and so asking him, "What the fuck is free about it?" is just a little redundant? But hey, Just nit-picking here.

Track 4, Sillyworld. *sigh*. Please just look at the title of the song and form your own opinion because a song that can call itself that and still take itself seriously is a little eh-hem... Silly. 
However, I do like one lyric in this song.
"Peace is just two fingers now
Peace was just a phase
When someone put it on a shirt
you knew to count the days
So take those fingers tape 'em up and shove 'em up your ass and carry on"
Its kinda true cuz peace is more than wearing a shirt that says "Give Peace a Chance!" So I guess I can give Stone Sour that. They also seem to stick with the reoccurring theme that we have no freedom.

Track 4, Made of Scars is quite catchy and the lyrics are quite well written. But to be honest I can't really talk about the music in this song and this album in general because there isn't much to talk about really. It's angry, generic and would probably be great to mosh to. The entire album really is a giant Ctrl+C Ctrl+V. Sure the lyrics and the main riff in each song are different, but its all too samey! All too structured. Like every song has to follow the same pattern. 
Intro Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Solo Verse/Chorus Bridge Chorus End. EVERY SINGLE SONG! Oh! Mistake! Track 7, Your God has TWO guitar solos!

Now I genuinely like Track 9, Through the Glass. I can't say that it doesn't follow the same pattern but it just does something different. IT DOESN'T TRY TO BE METAL! This song knows that it's a cheesy rock ballad thing and as one who generally hates Rock Ballads, its hard for me to say but, I really like this song.
I hate bands like Guns and Roses, Aerosmith and Def Leppard simply because they thrive on their cheesy love ballads! And I can't stand any of the vocalists for these bands. 
Perhaps Ballad is the wrong word for this song though, because it doesn't tell a story so much as repeat the same lyrics over and over. But How the song progresses and flows is what really makes this a good song. No Chorus is the same and it's done well.

Finally, Track 12 Zzyzx Rd. As you all can probably tell, I love this song. This song IS a ballad. The kind of Wave your lighter in the air at the concert ballad. There is alot of debate about what this song is about, but my 2 theories are, 1) It's about someone in the army who just wants his tour to end. Or 2) It's about him on tour with his band and how he feels, the record label is controlling him...And wants his tour to end.
Both theories make sense so pick the one you prefer.
This song couldn't be more cheesy if you used the disk as nachos but, I love it because it felt kinda uplifting when I was in a bad place in my life. So even though I could, I won't hate on this song because it means alot to me.

All in all, If you can overlook the absolute cheese, the crappy solos and how it's not Slipknot (You Fanboys). You may love this album as I do. Because even though it isn't a "Great" album, it does have some gems and some great memories.

So give it a listen, Here's a link to Stone Sour- Come What(Ever) May on

Finally, please can you guys all go to Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were kidnapped by Somalian Pirates in October last year and a ransom of US $4 million (ZA R28-million) has been demanded by their captors. I know that their families would love to see them safe again but they are unable to pay this sum. So please go to and make a donation! Ontop of that, for every new follower Plug in Your Head gets between now and their safe return I will contribute R10. If everyone works together we can bring them home.
Thank you everyone who has made a contribution and please tell your friends to follow Plug in Your Head and make their own donations.

I'll be back next week with another Recommendation, so until then, Turn Up the Volume and Plug in Your Head!

Xtian zzyzx

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Decemberists- Picaresque

I got alot of people saying to me that I don't recommend enough metal.So I WAS going to recommend Iron Maiden's Brave New World, but two things happened. One I couldn't find my good copy of the album. The only copies I could find would skip or were really shitty quality. HOW DOES AN MP3 SKIP!? And the Second thing that happened was that after not listening to this album for a couple months I heard it and... It's not very good. BUT I will review it at a later stage so in the mean time, I will talk about The Decemberists- Picaresque.

The Album starts out BIG with The Infanta. This song is really epic, not in the sense that it's a good song (Although it is very good!) But it just sounds very epic. Like... Damn... Um... Ooh! Like a war scene in Lord of the Rings. Epic like that. Not to say it reminds me of a Lord of the Rings fight scene.. But it does now... This metaphor really isn't going anywhere. I hope you know what I'm saying cuz I sure as hell don't.

The Hammered Organ in this song is very out of the ordinary for a song like this, but it's quite cool. It fits well.
And at around the 3 Minute Mark there's a key change and it goes into only 1 guitar strum per barre and 2 voices (Male and Female.) I love how well everything harmonises in this part of the song.

The lyrics in this album have brilliant wording and I love the lead singers rather unorthodox voice. Even though he pronounces almost every vowel like it has an umlaut. It isn't bad or annoying but kinda funny and it adds something. One song that really shows off the lyrics in this album is Track 2, We All Go Down Together.The thing I really love about the lyrics of this song is how simple they are. It's simple in the sense that a nursery rhyme would be simple with an AA BB CC etc. rhyming pattern. It's great! The instrumentals in this song and the whole album for that matter are brilliantly thought out, no song sounds the same and every instrument has it's place. I especially love when the lyrics go,
"Meet me on my Vast Veranda
My Sweet untouched Miranda."
A) because I think it's a good line and it's BRILLIANTLY simple and B) I love the drum beat at the end of each barre. It sounds kinda like cannon fire or something.

There is ONE thing I dislike about this album and this is possibly the ONLY thing I dislike. An album is supposed to be an experience. Like a ride, it has it's ups and downs in mood and for the first 3 songs, the ride is brilliant and it perfectly describes the point I'm trying to make, but Track 4 The Sporting Life is a huge jump from the morbidness of Track 3, Eli, the Barrow Boy to this super happy major key song. It just doesn't flow very well. This is especially annoying because Eli is my favourite song on the album and because The Sporting Life hits so hard it kills the atmosphere that Eli had created. But The Sporting Life is really good none the less.

In Track 5, The Bagmans Gambit, there is a brilliant crescendo that cuts out around the 6:30 mark and it's brilliantly done but it's been done before! Dear Reader and The Mars Volta are only two that come to mind, but it's still done well.

Track 10, The Mariners Revenge is an amazing folksy song. It reminds me of Misery by Green Day however it's better because you can't really take Misery seriously. But this song has Accordion and Mandolin and therefore it is, "Chocked full of win" to quote one of my friends. Tsk tsk, you know who you are.

This album is a great little Indie gem and if you haven't heard it yet DEFINITELY check it out! Listen to it and fall in love with it like I did. 

Here's a link to The Decemberists- Picaresque on Go check it out and tell me what you think! You can leave a comment, tweet me @Xtianzzyzx or email me at You can also recommend me an album or ask me to review something!

Finally, please can you guys all go to Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were kidnapped by Somalian Pirates in October last year and a ransom of US $4 million (ZA R28-million) has been demanded by their captors. I know that their families would love to see them safe again but they are unable to pay this sum. So please go to and make a donation! Ontop of that, for every new follower Plug in Your Head gets between now and their safe return I will contribute R10. If everyone works together we can bring them home.

I'll be back next week with another Recommendation, so until then, Turn Up the Volume and Plug in Your Head!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Xtian On Music 2

Answer me this. Do you have to be a musician to make music?
Well let me ask you another question. Is Britney Spears a musician?

I know you all cringed a little bit when I asked that. Because you don't want to say she is a musician, (Unless you like her, then in that case get off this page.) but because you answered yes to my first questions and therefore you know that the answer to question two is yes. Unless you're being a smart ass and smugly saying, "That's not music! That's shit!"

So because of this I propose that we have a new word, because I find it insulting that Britney Spears is categorised along with people like Jimmy Page who IS a musician! Why is Britney Spears famous anyway? She doesn't write her own music, she can't sing and she isn't the most beautiful person in the world. And yet many brilliant musicians aren't given any notice! I am yet to hear The Mars Volta on the radio!

Have any of you ever noticed that Pop singers are ALWAYS coming out with new "Music." I'm sure there have been 2 new Rihanna songs in the last month and yet I haven't heard a new Raconteurs song this week or for the last 3 years for that matter. Do you know why that is? It's because pop doesn't last! For example, when was the last time you heard people talking about that Jason Derulo song "Whatcha  Say." I assume a couple months! However when it came out, it was being played ALL the time and no-one would shut up about it! I remember hearing it blaring from every other phone at school! And now it has been almost forgotten. Now do you think that in 20 years time people will still be talking about that song? No. People WILL forget it almost entirely. But 40 odd years later, I'm still listening to Led Zeppelin and I don't intend to stop! And hell, even American Idiot which came out in 2004 will still be listened to in 40 years time.

However there are also some timeless classics that aren't known about! For example, The Mars Volta! One of the best bands of all time! Possibly best musically. And yet I have NEVER hear Circatriz ESP on the radio! But why not? I have heard "Hit Me Baby One More Time" on the radio. I have heard "Whatcha Say" on the radio! So why not play good music on commercial radio? Kids these days listen to what's on the radio and what's on MTV. Very rarely do they have any other influences in their music choices. And because they listen to what they are given by MTV and the radio, they get desensitised to how shitty it is and they start to ENJOY IT! And so record companies and Music broadcasters think, well this is what the kids like so lets give it to'em!

But I am certain that if Zeppelin and The Mars Volta were played on the radio or on MTV, that's what Pop Music would sound like! They don't follow what they like, they follow what they're told to like and thus they are tricked into liking it. But have no fear! I have a solution!

Give me control of the radio stations and record companies! I will release music that will last, it will get more radio play and it will be more enjoyable for everyone. Sure at first some people won't like it but in 10 or so years everyone will like it! Therefore solving world peace! And as a plus, because the music will last, record sales will increase because music will be bought for longer periods. This will give more money to the record companies and revive the music industry!

And finally, back to my initial point. We will need a new word, or atleast we can rehash an old word. MUSICMAKERS will be the ones that me and my board of shadowy figures in the boardroom of our highrise building say are bad. And MUSICIANS will be the ones who can stay!

Problem. Solved.

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