27 April 2012

The Used - HMV Ritz, Manchester, Live Review

In support of 'Vulnerable', THE USED are back to rock their way through a four date tour across the UK.
It’s 6pm, an hour before doors, and the night begins right here. Queuing fans are invited into the venue for a free meet and greet with the band. Faces are already left painted with smiles as fans return to the queue beaming at the sight of their signatures. 
         It’s 7pm and a pumped crowd congregate into the venue to await the bands presence.  Set opener ‘Take it Away’ welcomes the band to stage with a blast of energy. Modelling his own band merch tonight, vocalist Bert McCracken could not look more pleased to grace the stage.
       ‘The Bird and the Worm’, raises the heat and breaks the crowd into life. Followed by a high spirited performance of ‘Listening,’ Bert’s vocals and the crowd’s dynamic prove to be explosive tonight.
        Between songs McCracken’s sense of humour and crude jokes seem to fuel the crowd. His enthusiasm never falls. Pervading positive vibes, Bert demands the crowd to keep smiling on several occasions tonight. He certainly is a frontman worthy and grateful of his position. 
       Mid-set the band storm through fan favourite tracks, ‘The Taste of Ink’, ‘Hospital’, and ‘I Caught Fire’. With raw energy and feeling, lyrics are screamed back at the stage, word perfect. The atmosphere shared between the band and their fans is truly exhilarating.
      “Music is my escape” expresses Bert, a feeling which surely unites many souls across the room tonight. The fluid interaction built between the band and the crowd clearly remains throughout. Bert proceeds to reads out held up signs and notes delivered to the stage.
       Tracks from the newly released album include, ‘Kiss it Goodbye’, I Come Alive, and ‘Put Me Out’, They go down well with the crowd, but it’s the classic tracks ‘Buried Myself Alive’ and ‘Blue and Yellow’ that the hard-core gig goers really want to hear tonight.

The encore is a powerful one, with the band returning onstage for the infectious ‘Blood on My Hands.’ But it’s not over yet, introduced as the best song ever written, ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward,’ erupts the crowd into a mass display of a mosh pit. Then ‘A Box Full of Sharp Objects' draws the night to a steaming climax. Left sweaty, bruised and satisfied the fans make their way outside. 
        Afterwards, It’s not long before Bert and the band resurface for photographs with every last fan. The tour bus departs to take the show on the road once again.  

The Used.com

31 March 2012

The Used - 'Vulnerable' Review

‘Feel The Beat Of My Heart Moving On’

Since leaving behind 'Reprise Records', The Used have returned to deliver us with an eruption of creative control.  After forming their own label ‘Anger Music Group’ and collectively collaborating with 'Hopeless Records', the band unleash ‘Vulnerable.’ The album promises experimentation through venture of electronics, yet remains reminiscent to the ever so familiar sound of their previous four albums. 
       ‘I Come Alive’ and ‘Hands and Faces’ welcomes us to the new exploration of dub-step elements, as it marries their usual corrosive riffs. Tied strongly together with Bert’s utilised vocals, The Used reach new musical ground in their most versatile tracks to date.  With a string driven opener, ‘This Fire’ can perhaps assure you the albums most stand out, scream out, lyrical chorus. Since never failing to impact us with their strangeness, ‘Now That You’re Dead’ offers a strong release of hard hitting heaviness. In a great collaboration with ‘William Control’, the track captures both artists love for dark atmospherics. 
       However the theme of positivity is something that becomes apparent within the album. Through tracks such as ‘Shine,’ ‘Moving On’ and ‘Together Burning Bright,’ we are lyrically reminded not to dwell on our sorrows. The reliance in finding a touching Ballad on The Used's records is most certainly a given. In a pause from aggression, ‘Getting Over You’ captures heartfelt emotions. In awakening his softer side, Bert beautifully delivers  a ballad that is truly emotive
       Weaker tracks as a whole are difficult to identify. However, often distortion of vocals is something which does not go unnoticed. Demonstrated through tracks ‘Kiss It Goodbye’ and ‘Give Me Love,’ is a loss of effectiveness in Bert’s vocal ability. The voice distortion device is perhaps something that doesn't completely work for this band. 
       All in all, ‘Vulnerable’ is a very enjoyable album, which highlights the bands recurring musical strengths while offering room for experimentation.

‘This Fire Burning, It Burns Inside of Me’ 
The Used.net

22 February 2012

The Seven Deadly Sins of Corey Taylor

‘Seven Deadly Sins: Settling The Argument Between Born Bad And Damaged Good’ is the story and lifetime of Corey Taylor. Told through his own unique philosophy on the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’, this is no straight-forward talking memoir. With his live-for-the-moment attitude, Corey systematically sets out an anecdote for every sin.
Hailing from the state of Iowa, Taylor is the hard-working, hard-living rock singer of bands Slipknot and Stone Sour. Beginning in the early 90’s, after a broken childhood, he left his home and immersed himself into a fierce life of drug abuse, hard-core booze, sex, hurt and turmoil. His music exploded, he became rich and famous and his extreme lifestyle grew by the second. However, his years of chaos have pushed him towards the belief that what is defined as a ‘deadly sin’ isn’t really a sin at all, that it is simply a human characteristic that we all share.  In a promotional interview with Jim Florentine, he argued, “Gluttony, greed, lust, rage, envy, sloth and pride are parts of our personalities as people, and if you want to be a good person you have to learn to deal with them.” ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ is the brutally honest confession of a man whose life could have gone drastically wrong at any turn. Follow his soul searching path for self-discovery as he reflects on what it means to be seen as either a “good person” or “bad”. He tells explore music that the ‘deadly seven’ “may lead to sin, but the urge itself isn't a sin. We are all instinctive animals at the end of the day. You can live with these hungers and still be a good person."
For Corey Taylor, ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ marks his literacy debut. Although he’s no stranger to the writing world, Corey is the key lyricist for both of his bands, and is a regular columnist for the monthly music magazine ‘Rock Sound.’ In the Jim Florentine video interview, Corey commented on how he had; “been threatening to write a book for a long time, but since every Tom, Dick and Harry writes an autobiography, I didn’t want to do just that.” Later he reiterated “my approach to writing is the same as my approach to music: I don’t want to do what everybody else is doing.” So it is clear to witness that Corey has created something unique. The book is delivered with an autobiographical style, yet at the same time remains a book that strives to make a philosophical point. As he discusses in depth his own philosophies, he also balances it out with a backlog of personal stories.  In the process, he dissects his experiences as a sinner, and for your consideration reconstructs the originally appointed ‘deadly sins’ into what he calls ‘the new magnificent seven.’  The book is centred on the subject and nature of sin, which prominently delivers a sense of seriousness and poignancy. However, Corey never fails to please his readers with elements of great humour and an array of sarcastic phrases. He often finds it in him to insult celebrities that he knows his audience will relate to, “when Paris Hilton can top the bestsellers' lists, we are one more Connect Four move closer to Armageddon” is just one example of his razor sharp wit. His writing style successfully finds the balance between darkness and the light of heart.
Corey’s strong mind and solid ideas do enable him to raise some very agreeable points. Kicking off with the discussion of wrath, let’s give an overview of his commodious beliefs. He states that “when used for venting purposes rage can be cathartic, and allows you to feel good when getting things off your chest.” Cleverly he leaves us as readers to question ‘what is bad about that?’ He further writes in this chapter “Rage is to feel, like love and hate, but those things are not part of our so-called “Deadly Seven”, am I right folks?”
Detailing a personal story, where as a young boy he witnessed a man brutally beat up a woman, he leads on to assert that rage is not a sin. It is however the trigger than can commit a sin. As a reader we could all come to realise that this appears to make perfect sense, and this opening story is just a small glimpse of the incredibly insane life of Corey Taylor about to be unfolded to you.
            Next comes lust, a chapter filled with Corey’s shocking sexual encounters. From losing his virginity at age eleven with a messed up baby sister, to been graphically raped by a male friend, this section painfully details it all. Yet it comes as no surprise that he still stand by his strong judgement that lust is in no way a sin and is only a human trait embedded in us all. “Sex is not a crime, so why is lust a sin?” he asks us. Corey writes that it is perfectly ok to think lustful thoughts, but after which it would be your responsibility to control your actions. 
            Perhaps the most humours chapter of the book is pride and vanity. His definitions of a vain person are presented comically because we can all relate to that one person in our lives that we know is like that. He tells us “vanity is constantly checking every mirror, storefront window, tea kettle, microwave door, windshield and any other reflective surface just to get a glimpse of your fine self.” He enlightens us with the tale of an ex-girlfriend who used to drive past a certain bank every day, even if the bank was out of her way. And why? Just to catch a look at herself driving by in the long picture window that ran the length of the building. “Vanity can make us act like selfish cowards” he implies, “but that does not make it a sin”. The chapter seems to overall present the message that if something does not hurt another person in the process, then where is the sin in that.
            Moving onto sloth, Corey gives us the origin of the sin “in ancient times, people were expected to work all week and only rest on Sabbath or Sunday, god forbid you tried to take off a Tuesday to watch your kids ball game”.  So we discover the root of sloth lay in the virtues of menial labour. This chapter makes a simple point, that the sin has out-lived time and is no longer applicable to the modern day society. This wouldn’t be a chapter from the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ if it didn’t have that meaningful Corey anecdote behind it. So here we learn about his fight with depression, as he sunk to rock bottom and how he “once spend a whole week in his pajama bottoms, tethered to his couch, ready to let oxygen off the hook”. He describes how he “wanted to wallow in bullshit until someone came to take the pain away.” Never failing to hit us with poignancy Corey immediately uplifts us with the message that only you have the power to help yourself, but sometimes you are just too busy withdrawing from it.
            The elements of envy and greed come hand in hand. Corey explains that he used envy and greed as motivational tools to achieve something in his life. He saw something successful from other person and strived to do even better himself. In the Jim Florentine interviews he quotes, “One person’s envy is another person’s drive”, so when he presents his argument that envy and greed are human character traits in us all, it is almost impossible to disagree.
             “Did I ever tell you I used to live in a closet?” he asks us in the opening line for his chapter on gluttony. Following next is the heart-breaking tale of a childhood experience that compelled him towards drug addiction. Addiction been his best example of gluttony, this is boldly his relevance to the personal story. Not failing to apply his prominate theory he comments that “sins make people stupid, not deadly. Stupid”. He further moves onto detail the painful story behind his alcohol addiction and how he thinks self-esteem is a key factor to gluttony. Feeling like you need to crave something to fill a void being the logic behind that thought.      
            The final chapter defines Corey’s new philosophical creation of sins. To a great extent these could be considered as genius in their simplicity and relevance. He creates his new magnificent seven based on the concept that the original seven are out-lived for the post-modern world. “I give you the New Seven Deadly Sins: murder, rape, child abuse, torture, theft, lying, and bad music.” What is interesting and makes most sense of all is his theory that a sin should be against the law, therefore a true representation of human pain. So although wrath, sloth, greed, envy, gluttony and lust and pride are things that connect us as human beings, they do not break the law. As a reader we cannot argue that the first six of his newly appointed sins are evil acts, which in some way inflict pain on others. However, he intentionally leaves the seventh ‘bad music’ open to interpretation. Justifying his choice with reasoning he passionately speaks that, “bad music is the murder to the true art of music in general.” When giving his opinion on bad music he believes that in today’s society “you do not have to be exceptional to make it in the music industry anymore.” He goes on to vent that “it’s this disgusting trend that makes the human voice sound more like a keyboard caricature than any form of singing. Now all you have to do is talk into a microphone and your engineer and producer will do the rest.” Although clarifying that he “does not like to name names” he bites back once again at today’s generation of female celebrities, such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. He claims that they “get a record deal based solely on their notoriety.” He remains passionate about his views on the music industry when he furthers this by saying bad music “steal air time from more deserving bands” and that “undiscovered geniuses are giving up on their dreams because of the mediocrity of popular radio.”  He expresses that he knows “bad music is a matter of opinion,” however knowing that the majority of his reader will be his dedicated rock fans, Corey cleverly confirms he is “fairly confident that more people agree than you suspect.” After reading the autobiography as a whole, his submission of ‘bad music’ as a sin does not come as a surprise at all. As a man who has literally had his life saved by the power of music and lyrics, his justification for the choice is heart-warming in its message. He simply wouldn’t be alive today without the creation of “good” music.
            Corey’s impacting writing style may lead his generation of young music fans to believe his work provides as a bible of self-help. As a man who has practically done it all, his young followers could potentially learn a lot from his past issues. Corey seems to connect directly to his readers by impacting them with clear intentional statements about life. The dominating message has been his belief and acceptance to “let go of guilt and past mistakes”. He continuously emphasises the process of taking what you need from the past and learning from it. In the promotional interviews, Corey  voices that “you can’t let the past define you, only guide you, don’t carry it for the rest of your life, let go of the guilt and move on,” something we can all probably relate to in some way or another. Injecting his words of wisdom into our systems a final time, he draws his book to a close, “it’s very simple, live your life, no matter what that life is.”

9 January 2012

We All Need A Poet, Someone Strange To Believe In

William Francis

Through the creation of his lyrics, music, poetry, and essays, I have found a realm of salvation. The power of  his words are like therapy to me. WILLIAM FRANCIS is my hero and I welcome you into his world. 

Hitting London and Manchester in the form of his alter ego, WILLIAM CONTROL, these live shows are not to be missed. His dark and sinister lyrics will infect and entice you into the darkest part of his psychosis. Follow one seriously fucked up individual as he struggles to make his way though the world. William Control is all about character and the visions he creates. 

Inspired by his love for 80s new wave bands, William Francis explores the electronic music scene in his own creative way. Vastly different from the musical sound of his punk-rock band 'Aiden', Wil demonstrates his artistic talent on many levels. 


14 December 2011

Army of Freshmen / Zebrahead Review.

Welcome to ‘The Get Nice Or Die Trying Tour 2011’, delivering you a triple dose of energetically pumped rock.  Joining the line up with only one week’s notice, first band to perform is Paige; They deliver the crowd a pleasing opening performance in their six song set. Although it’s not until the closing track ‘Young Summer,’ that really brings out a catchy chorus and engaging sing along. Clearly this defines their stand out moment.
Californian rockers, Army of Freshmen, break onto stage with an energy that never falls. Lead vocalist, Chris Jay, will not fail in successfully encouraging the crowd to throw their hands in the air. In a ten song set, the band storm through fan favourites such as ‘10,000 Years’, ‘Juliet’ and ‘Get ‘Em Up’. Crammed at the very front of the venue are a small group of loyal Freshmen fans, who sing their souls out to every single lyric. Those behind  them may purely be there for headliners Zebrahead, but Army of Freshmen inject them with enthusiasm. Smiles left pained across their faces, more and more of the crowd do not hesitate to jump. It doesn't go unnoticed that keyboardist/vocalist, Owen Bucey, currently stands onstage with his right arm wrapped in a sling. A couple nights ago, Owen unluckily slipped in a travel lodge shower, shattering his collar bone.  Chris recites the tale to the crowd. Using his given charm and humour, he has the crowd laughing throughout the story, yet gaining Owen a well-deserved appraisal for his courage to continue. Defying doctor’s advice to head home, Owen troops on the eleven night tour as a single handed keyboardist. If this doesn’t prove a bands dedication to performing, nothing else will. As a whole the performance has little faults, except the occasional slip of lyrics from singer Chris. However, this remains unnoticed to all but the devoted fans, and freshmen's true talent of a great band relationship shows they never let a error effect their performance.   Leaving the crowd fully fuelled to rock, the Freshmen end their set spreading a positive vibe. 
                Presenting a vibrant 'Hawaiian' themed set up, complete with an onstage cocktail bar, Zebrahead hit our eyes. The show begins with a bang as the crowd serge forward to the sound of ‘Blackout,’ the album opener to their newest release ‘Get Nice.’ With a set list compiled of energetic classics and new material, the crowd are instantly raised to life. Further into the show the band invite select few fans onstage for a free drink at the bar. Proving they never disappoint to engage and interact with their audience, the atmosphere in the room is at an all-time high. Blasting their way through ‘Hello Tomorrow’, ‘Hell Yeah’ and ‘Rescue Me,’ the room remains in exploding hype. Towards the end of the set, vocalist Ali Tabatabaee, demands you to prepare your ears for their heaviest tune ever written. Erupting into their super heavy cover of Avril Lavignes ‘Girlfriend’, then mixing into a medley of Spice Girls classics, the crowd overwhelm into madness. The band close on a powerful finish to Ali belting out ‘HMP’ through his megaphone. With circle pits spread wide and faces glowing red, Zebrahead certainly brought the roof down tonight.