The Melvins and drums

I had the good fortune of catching The Melvins live last time they played Boston. During this set, they stuck to rock oriented material, and didn’t really show their more experimental side. Although I’ve been listening to their material for years, it didn’t dawn on me until that show how essential Dale Crover’s, and more recently Coady Willis’ drumming is to The Melvins songs.

The Melvins take a few page from The Who play-book, at least in their dynamics. Buzz largely sticks to rhythmic parts that accentuate chord changes. He doesn’t really do the whole straight eighth notes power chord thing too often, instead he builds catchy riffs that dance around a bit until they return home to pound you in the face at specific chord changes. Buzz solos pretty rarely, but when he does he rips. He always aids the mood of the songs with his guitar solos rather than using the solo as a venue to show off for the sake of showing off. Jared the bass player follows Buzzes lead hitting the root notes fairly often, but mixes it up with flourishes chords. He basically sticks to what a good rock bassist should do, keep the rhythm but, throw some cool fills and leads in their as well.

The largest amount of variation, solos, fills, sound effects, what one would consider the lead parts come from Dale and Coady. The drums pushed each song, they didn’t provide a subtle back beat, they didn’t lay back. The drums kicked each song in the ass driving the mood by simultaneously working with the song, and sometimes threatening to tear it apart.

The beautiful thing is that the tension created by the drummers during certain songs is completely intentional. Both Dale and Coady are exceptional drummers, and know exactly what they’re going for. They know when to play the same beat, and they know when to go ape-shit. As if playing their often taxing and complicated parts for each song perfectly wasn’t enough, in between each tune Dale and Coady would engage in mini drum offs and pieces which would give Buzz and Jared time to tune. These drums excursions always segwayed perfectly into the next song.

Dale and Coady represent the best kind of drummers. They frequently deviate from basic rhythms, but they do so in a way which is tasteful. Their drum solos aren’t 10 minute long epics, they’re short sweet, and show off their abilities to compose cool rhythms and miniature pieces, rather than showing how many notes they can hit in a second.

As they have in the past the Melvins have brought together an amazing group of musicians, who are tasteful, and enthusiastic to break new ground. While there probably isn’t an era of the band without something valuable to offer, this latest line-up could possibly be the best they’ve had yet. An amazing feat for a band who already have so many artistic accomplishments under their belt.

Thoughts on MF Doom

The idea of a rapper basing his whole persona around Dr. Doom, even going so far as to wear a metal mask in public, is awesome. Unfortunately the execution of said idea isn’t so great. No I’m not talking about Dr. Dooom a.k.a Kool Keith. Rather I’m talking about MF Doom or as he wants us to call him now DOOM.

MF( Metal Face for those not in the know) is pretty well known to most fans of the rap genre. His songs cover the gamut from getting high to food to women. He tends to use odd phrases and wordplay to sometimes disguise his subject matter. Because of this, his main stream appeal is greatly reduced and he tends to be championed by fans of “Backpack” rap (I put quotes because I find it a bullshit label, but most people besides me accept it so I’m using it here for brevity’s sake). Doom tends to be brought up when people are challenging the idea that all rap is about bling and hoes.

Except he is really not the best person to be used to convince people that rap is good. This is because MF isn’t a great rapper. Yes he has fancy wordplay, yes he has a cool concept. But he lacks charisma. Dude is about as wooden of a rapper as you can find. He isn’t interesting at all. This fact isn’t helped out at all by his choice of beats. Most are as boring as DOOM is. Thus his cds just plod along as some guy talks about putting jalapeños on his popcorn.

Why do rap fans embrace him? Well because on a technical level, dude’s got game. He’s got some great songs, but for all the material he has out those great songs are a vast minority. He also has some great rhymes, but he’s not some grand master wordsmith that fans make him out to be. I feel these people have take to him because he’s a great idea like Twitter. But like Twitter, MF in reality is just annoying.

But I didn’t write this just to bury DOOM. Instead I’m here to praise him. I realize I’ve just spent three paragraphs spitting venom on the subject, but I’ve got something positive to say. He’s just released a 5 track sampler for his new album Born Like This and I really like it. I was shocked but again I really liked it. So that means that maybe his fans weren’t lying about him. Rather they were just harking about genius that hadn’t been fully realized till now. Or maybe he just has 5 good songs on the new album and thats it. Either way we will find out soon.

Hollywood Undead-Swan Songs

Hollywood Undead Swan Songs:

Do you remember Limp Bizkit? What about Slipknot? And Eminem? I do to, and I sympathize. Popular music in the late nineties sucked. It empirically sucked. This isn’t an issue of the subjectivity of musical taste, this music objectively fucking sucks. However, none of this music compares to the new high bastion of suck Hollywood Undead.

Imagine multiple Fred Dursts dressed up in masks saying the word fuck a lot and calling out emo kids over a carbon copy of the riff from Crazy Train. Yes, its that bad. Oh and lets not forget the shameful mix of crunk production, distorted guitars, and club vocals that make up No.5, one of their most well known songs. These violent sexist assholes got popular via their Myspace account, and were the first band signed to Myspace’s record label. Their music can currently be found in popular video games and big-budget movies.  Not too mention their 2008 single undead reached 10 on the on Billboards Hot Mainstream Rock Charts.

Didn’t our overexposure to Nu-Metal teach us anything? Don’t you remember the sigh of relief America as whole sounded, when that trend ended? Isn’t there a warning explicitly about this band in the Book of Revelation? Isn’t there enough good angry music out there, to stop shit like this from getting passed the 5th play on Myspace? I guess not, but we can fight back. If your child or friend enjoys this band, please do everything you can to save them. Tie them to a chair, and go Clockwork Orange on their ass. Super glue an I-pod to their person, containing TV on The Radio’s complete discography.  Anything! Do anything you possibly can to prevent this garbage from getting any popular than it already has. Its your duty as upholders of culture and taste. Go forth and fight the good fight

Extra Golden-Thank You Very Quickly

Extra Golden Thank You Very Quickly:

The funky grooves found on this album, could wake someone from a coma, and get their ass grooving, right there in the hospital. The group consists of an ethno-musicologist some Chicago based musicians and some Kenyan musicians who specialize in a musical style known as benga. The resulting sound reminds me of latter day Talking Heads, but more fluid and jammy. The vocals are enthusiastically chanted, and whether or not the lyrics are good (I don’t have the slightest idea what they’re saying) they are sung amazingly well and with conviction. This album is fun and funky in the best ways possible.

Poppy Seed Grinder – Humanophobia

Poppy Seed Grinder Humanophobia:

There is a song named “Fetus of Hatred” and it’s not a joke song. Awesome. The vocals are a series of stereotypical gurgles and grunts that mask what I’ll assume are just awful lyrics. The rest of the band goes through the brutal death metal motions. You’ll listen to this album, cringe at just how generic it is, and then forget you ever heard it.