Monthly Archives: March 2015

Dead Inside

Hey! A new Muse song dropped yesterday! It’s called “Dead Inside” and here it is! (NSFW warning – contains nudity.)

Ummm. Hmmm. It’s not my favorite? I really like the raw sound of it. But the lyrics are kind of…heavy-handedly melodramatic. WHICH I KNOW IS KIND OF MUSE’S THING. I know, I know, I know. But even this seems too oversaturated. “Dead Inside” is just so…trite for a song title. I’m just pretty let down here.

I mean, I get what the song is about. Rolling Stone calls it a “relationship horror song” which is perfect because does seem to be about an abusive or at least destructive relationship. It’s painful and horrifying when you think about what Matthew Bellamy is describing. This should really, really hit you hard. But for me…it doesn’t. Maybe in high school it would have…

Argh, okay, I’m not trying to wander into petty territory here. I’m just not feeling it. There’s nothing fresh about it. This doesn’t sound like new Muse music.

And maybe I’m just being grumpy because I know this is just a lyric video – but a naked lady thrashing around? Come on. I like the kaleidoscopic effects and that’s about it. It already had a subtle sexual vibe to it with the mirrored body parts. Something about those hands and fingers looked positively perverse in a way that was uncomfortable but satisfying. It’s not like this is a particularly novel effect to use in a video, but it reminded me of Goldfrapp’s “Strict Machine” which, it goes without saying, I like much better. Sure, you could call me a hypocrite since it features some bare-chested men (and close-ups of said chests), but the focus isn’t on that. There’s a LOT going on in “Strict Machine” and men’s bare chests are just a small part of it.

I don’t know. I’m just not impressed overall. Apparently, Muse released a lyric video several days before this called “Psycho” so I’ll have to go back and listen to that one and see if that changes how I feel about the imminence of Drones. But in the meantime? I’d rather go back and listen to some Black Holes and Revelations.

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Velocifero

I want to talk about Ladytron today! Last time I talked about them, I talked about my least favorite album of theirs. Well, this time I’d like to talk about my favorite album of theirs! And that would be 2008’s Velocifero!

This was my second Ladytron album, after Light & Magic, which I also love. But Velocifero easily overtakes it as the best album for me. It’s just got a bigger, more well-rounded sound, and the production is fantastic. Also, it’s got my favorite Ladytron album cover:

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That may have been the reason I picked it, actually. I didn’t know where to go after Light & Magic so I went with the one with the prettiest cover, which sounds kind of shallow, but for me it was a good choice!

“Black Cat,” the opener, is just great. I love it when Mira Aroyo sings in Bulgarian. Her voice is so seductive and commanding. Her songs tend to be among my favorites in general. No idea what she’s saying, but I don’t mind. (Here are the lyrics in both Bulgarian and English, in case you were wondering.)

“Ghosts” is another great track and I’m almost a little conflicted here, because they are BOTH great openers. You could have switched the two and it would have been just as amazing. But I’m kind of glad they went with the Mira track first. Anyway, I really like how unapologetic and confident this song is. I don’t care much for the video though. There might be some Watership Down references here?

Then there’s yet another track I love: “I’m Not Scared.” There’s this car metaphor they’re playing with that draws me in every time. I guess I just like that it meshes well with the mechanical/robotic implications of their name. I think you can really hear how flawless the production is here. It’s such a well-rounded song.

I don’t have a lot to say about “Runaway” – it’s a pretty straightforward track – but I do like the video for it better than the one for “Ghosts.” It’s a lot more in line with the aesthetic of the album. And the effects are super simple but pretty cool!

Mira sings again on “Season of Illusions” – this time in English! This is one of the rare Mira songs that doesn’t do much for me. But I love something about the lyrics “Obliterate the Sunday you’ve been cherishing all week.” It’s got a very carpe diem feel to it, but it’s sung in such a cool, detached way.

I feel like there’s a lot of aggressive confidence in this album, but it’s given off in such a calm and collected way. “Burning Up” is another one of those tracks, and yet it’s teetering on giving in to the emotion simmering just beneath the surface. “I wrote a protest song about you” just really hits hard.

Another Mira song comes next: “Kletva,” which is actually a cover of a Bulgarian rock song from the late 80’s. It’s a pretty straightforward cover translated into Ladytron’s style. Again, here’s the translation…and here’s the original – it’s a nice song! And it’s weird hearing it in comparison with Ladytron’s version.

I really like “They Gave You a Heart, They Gave You a Name” a lot too. My brain tends to default to some of their songs being about robots, which is the case here, but I’m sure I’m absolutely wrong.

And OH MY GOSH, I love “Predict the Day” so much. Definitely another favorite. The haunting whistle just gets me every time, and the little exhale too. It’s so dark and, again, unapologetic. This song is flawless. It’s like the perfect villain theme song.

How many times have I mentioned that I love a song off this album so far? Like almost every one so far? Because it doesn’t stop with “The Lovers.” It sounds so sinister. There’s this marching drum beat that just goes so well with the synth, and with Helen Marnie’s almost-taunting yet lullaby-like vocals on top, it’s positively hypnotizing.

What the heck it “Deep Blue” about??? Again, my brain defaults to technology, specifically the chess-playing computer Deep Blue. Mira’s voice is so smoky and soft here. It’s a change from her normal tone. It’s really nice and it works so great with the song. I’m glad she did this one, because it wound up fitting her so well.

I don’t have a lot to say about “Tomorrow,” surprisingly. It’s a dreamy song. Somehow the style is distinct from the rest of the album (to my ears anyway) and yet it fits in just right. The video is the best of the 3 they did for this album. It reminds me of some kind of obscure experimental 70’s fantasy film. It’s beautiful to take in.

The final track is “Versus” and I think this is the first time one of the guys – Daniel Hunt – has sung on a track? I think his voice works well here! Both in sound and in theme – it’s his voice against Helen’s, but they go together nicely.

Overall, I think this is a great starter Ladytron album, but I could be saying that because I think just about every song on it is the best. I played a few tracks for a friend once, and he had never heard of Ladytron before, but he loved them instantly. So I’m going to go ahead and say that if you’ve never heard of Ladytron before either, you should definitely start here!

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Cookie Thumper

So I missed last week’s Music Tuesdays post because I made poor life choices. Stay in school kids! (Actually, it was just bad planning, but what I said before sounds funnier, at least to me.)

Anyway! I saw Chappie last weekend. And I won’t really say much about the movie itself because…well…I mean…the robot was cute, I guess. Sigh. But besides that, this is a music blog! And this movie actually had some musicians cast in leading roles. And of even more relevance, it featured their music!

I am talking about Die Antwoord, who played themselves in this movie, more or less. I really only know this one song, “Cookie Thumper,” which was introduced to me by a friend (and was also in the movie, so I recognized it instantly). There was a little overlap: I was excited about Chappie at the time, and she pointed out that it featured this duo and sent me one of the songs. I’m including the music video below, but I have to mention that it’s very NSFW and features lots of heavy sexual suggestiveness, drugs, a little urination, and general creepiness. Don’t show this one to your mom and make sure the kids are tucked in bed and asleep, that’s all I’m saying.

Personally, I kinda like it! The visuals can be really overwhelming – at times it’s just a bit much – but that’s their style, I get it. It’s supposed to have a high shock value. I actually do like the singer Yolandi’s voice though. What can I say? I like female vocals and even more so when they get weird. It’s very child-like, so it goes well with her image, which is also kind of child-like but also really weirdly sexualized, but not in a conventional way. It’s all very jarring.

Once upon a time in college (I swear this story will be related), I had a teacher show us Un Chien Andalou and I got to see the infamous eye-cutting scene – I say infamous, but I didn’t know about it at the time, so it was certainly a shock to me and not a pleasant experience at that. (Any sort of eyeball injury or torture is one of those things that makes me want to projectile vomit. I’m not even THAT squeamish. But eyes just…UGH.) Anyway, my teacher explained that this scene was based on quote (which I now can’t find and which doesn’t seem to be supported by the Wikipedia page) that goes something like “Art should be an assault on the eyes.”

I bring this story up because that’s what I think when I watch this video. It’s an assault on the eyes. The sound is an assault on the ears. Overall, it’s just an assault on (and some might say an offense to) the senses. But I like that that’s what it is. I certainly can’t think of anything else like it. Some people might dismiss it as garbage music, but I think Die Antwoord would own that label. That kind of seems to be what their style is all about. It’s called “zef” and the origins are kind of interesting. The Wikipedia page makes for a quick read.

I’m going to have to look more into Die Antwoord. I’ve been meaning to since my friend introduced me to “Cookie Thumper” but just haven’t got around to it. I sense a bump in popularity for them following Chappie so I’ll be riding that wave too. Well, once i get around to it.

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