Monthly Archives: September 2014

Celebrating 10 Years of American Idiot: Where It All Began For Me

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It’s a unique pleasure to be able to pinpoint the exact moment when something truly special came into your life and forever changed the way you felt and understood the basic idea of a certain medium. When I was 15 years old, I wasn’t much of a music fan. I rarely listened to music as a hobby, and my understanding of rock music was whatever Now That’s What I Call Music CDs and mainstream radio tossed at me. In most instances, this meant bands such as Three Days Grace, Creed, 3 Doors Down, and Nickelback (with the occasional Blink-182 track that I still love and listen to). My feelings towards music were that of convenience and of necessity, not of passion; music was something nice for the background but not something I lived off of.

Then came 2004, and what has become my all-time favorite record was released by pop punk band Green Day. To backtrack, International Superhits (Green Day’s 2001 greatest hits album), was the first CD I ever owned, but I bought it mostly for “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” and only glanced over the rest of the tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every song, from the infectious bass line on “Longview” to the acoustic strumming on “Macy’s Day Parade”, but as was typical for me at the time I enjoyed the songs without giving much thought to the music on a personal and emotional level. It was merely noise for the sake of noise, something that could fit into the background like a person you’ve never met walking beside you on the street.

Then American Idiot was dropped into my lap from the collective minds and talents of guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool. I saw it in stores everywhere and was instantly drawn to the bleeding heart/hand grenade logo on the cover and was hooked the first time I heard the song “American Idiot”. It was bold, in-your-face and unapologetic, and I wanted more; for the first time, I was inclined (and determined) to listen to an entire album based on a song rather than just listen to the singles or popular tracks. What I received was a lesson on music that I didn’t expect or know that I wanted, but one I sorely needed at the time.

The album was more imaginative than anything I had ever heard, something called a “rock opera” with characters, a narrative, rising and falling action, and a climax. It was like a novel in music form and I was in love. I became instantly infatuated with the suburban struggles of the jaded and bored “Jesus of Suburbia”, the story of his deserting his hometown in search of truth only to run into the mysterious “Whatsername” and his journey that led him back to Jingletown. I remember especially enjoying the repeated references that tied one song to the next, from the “7-11” he used to hang out at to the “letterbomb” Whatsername dropped on him to the “underbelly”, which was his gang of personal disciples. I found the idea of forming a collective story so much more interesting than just putting a record out with 10-14 seemingly random songs.

But more than just the story, it was the first album that implored me to notice the instrumentation and to take interest in the idea and style of writing lyrics and composing music. I was floored the first time I heard “Give Me Novacaine” and hearing how the soft lullaby of the acoustic guitar gave way for the imposing, raucous chorus that engulfed my senses. I dug the high-pitched shrill of “Nobody likes you/everyone left you/they’re all out without you/having fun” that preceded the crunchy guitar intro on “Letterbomb”. More than anything, I was amazed at the two 9-minute, 5-part epics (equipped with tempo changes and stylistic variety that made each song an impressive, unparalleled roller coaster of musical emotion). To be able to switch up a song so many times while not losing sight of the narrative and the importance of what the band was singing made those two of my best songs I’ve ever heard. American Idiot did for me what Dookie did to the grunge craze and what grunge did to the hair metal phase: it purged any remaining semblance of who I was as a music fan and created a completely new outlook on music.

The story of American Idiot is timeless at its heart; it remains tied to the idea of alienation, loneliness, anger, and longing, among so many more. The story of looking for a better life for yourself but ultimately being disappointed has been told time and time again, but at the moment when Green Day released it, it was a story that needed to be told in the way Green Day told it. For this reason (and simply because the band was bold enough to go against what was “easy” and challenge their fans and the music world) this album will remain special for a long time.

Without American Idiot, I would not have the same undying passion for music that I have. Maybe another album would have come along that would have had that effect on me, or maybe not. But for me, American Idiot was the beginning of it all, the same way Dookie was the beginning of punk for so many in the mid-90’s and influenced an entire crop of bands that I now love. Without American Idiot I would not be into my other favorite bands, like Bayside and The Wonder Years, because I wouldn’t care so deeply about music on a personal, lyrical, and emotional level and would not be able to connect with the music these types of bands make.

Even if I go through a period of time where I don’t listen to American Idiot for a few weeks, or a few months, or even a year, not a day goes by where I don’t contemplate its profound impact on my life. I think about all the shows I’ve attended (including a few Green Day shows) and all the experiences that have made my life richer and more fulfilling, and I can trace it all back to September 21, 2004, when Green Day released American Idiot. For that, I am forever grateful.

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Eddie Berman with Laura Marling // “Like a Rolling Stone” cover

The best covers are those that pay homage to the original but also give a slightly different take on a classic song. There are some really good Bob Dylan covers out there but there are also some really (really) bad ones. Whenever I hear a cover for the first time I hold my breath as I wonder anxiously what the end result will be. Berman’s cover of Dylan’s classic “Like a Rolling Stone” is one of the best covers of the song I’ve ever heard, and there are quite a few of them floating around out there. The cover is stripped down and intimate and features the stunningly talented Laura Marling lending her vocals to the track. You can download the track for free for a limited time on Berman’s facebook page.

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Bear’s Den // “Above the Clouds of Pompeii”

The first time I heard Bear’s Den live was the moment I truly fell in love with the band. Their lyrics are emotional and heartfelt and their live harmonies are stunningly on point. With one of their three main instruments consisting of a banjo they were perhaps an obvious choice to join the Mumford & Sons Gentlemen of the Road shows. The trio are due to release their debut album this October, but you can check out the acoustic video for their song “Above the Clouds of Pompeii” (formerly “Pompeii”) now.

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I Am the Avalanche Release “177 Music Video”

Long Island punk group I Am the Avalanche have released a music video for “177”, the second video to come from their 2014 release Wolverines.  Shot at the legendary St. Vitus Bar in Brooklyn New York in front of a sold-out crowd, the video captures the raw energy and mayhem that comes with an I Am the Avalanche headlining show and embraces the short, electric nature of the song. The video was premiered by USA Today. I Am the Avalanche are currently on a short run with Modern Baseball leading up to Riot Fest in Chicago and Denver. The band begins a tour in support of Bayside beginning next month. For a full lsit of tour dates, head to the band’s website.

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To Kill a King feat. Bastille & Friends – “Choices”

Last year To Kill a King toured the US to promote their debut album, Cannibals With Cutlery. Along the way the band recorded several songs as a part of Ralph’s Balcony Sessions.

This video, which is the last song they recorded, features TKAK playing their song “Choices” with a little help from some friends.

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Frank Turner Discusses Opening For Mineral, Musical Influences, and Which Band He Would Love to See Live

by Vasilis

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Many music fans have a hard time picturing their favorite musicians as music fans themselves. We tend to put these artists on a pedestal and imagine them as rock stars who are above the sort of idol worship that we often demonstrate. However, contrary to that belief, these musicians are no different than us; they love the art of music and grew up admiring a wide ranger of musicians who often became the foundation which helped inspire them to create their music. That feeling doesn’t just go away once a musician becomes popular or well-known. It’s this beautiful cycle that allows the music we connect with so deeply to be created, to continue to influence future musicians who create music that influences a whole new generation, and it’s a wonderful thing to watch. Frank Turner is a musicians who completely shatters the false belief of musicians as being above the fans. Frank conducts himself in a very honest and open manner with his audience; he is just a guy who makes music for a living, one who builds a strong connection with his fans through his lyrics and approachable personality.

Frank is also not one to shy away from the music that inspired him. At shows, he can often be heard covering anyone from Blink-182 to Bruce Springsteen (his “Thunder Road” cover is a staple at his New York City shows). Frank has also made it known that he is a huge fan of 90’s emo group Mineral, whom he described as one of his very “favourite, foundational bands”. When Mineral announced their reunion tour earlier this year, Frank did what any fan would do when presented with a rare opportunity to see such an influential, once-dead band: he bought tickets to their New York City performances and planned a trip without a moment’s hesitation. I was instantly fascinated by his own connection to the band and found it refreshing to see one of my favorite musicians speak so highly of one of his and demonstrate such unbridled passion for their work.

On top of flying out to New York City to catch some of their shows (their first full tour in 17 years), Frank also opened for the first of show. We reached out to Frank Turner via email to ask him about his experience opening up for Mineral last Thursday at St. Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. Frank was kind enough to answer our questions and provide some insight into his experience, some of his other big influences, and which band he would love to see live if given the opportunity. You can check out a full review of the show on Noisey’s blog, as well as Frank’s first-hand experience of the show.

Lyrically Addicted: Thank you for talking the time to speak with us Frank. You called Mineral’s sophomore (and final) album EndSerenading “near-perfect” on Noisey’s blog. Was there any one particular song on that album (or by the band in general) that made you go “wow” on first listen or that really made you connect so strongly with their work?

Frank Turner: Yes, the song “&Serenading”. I remember being a little confused by the record at first (I was about 16), but when that song kicked in, with the chorus line about symphonies in seashells, I was pretty blown away. Once the ice cracked like that, I fell for the rest of the record very quickly.

LA: You had the unique opportunity of opening for a band that meant so much to you on their reunion tour. Can you briefly describe what the experience was like and why you decided to play a set of new songs.

Frank: It was a great experience, one for the obituary. I was pretty jet-lagged and had a nasty cold, so perhaps not on my best form, but I enjoyed the expeirence. I thought I’d play new stuff because I’m working on a new record right now and no one bought tickets to see me play, so it seemed like a good opportunity to try some new stuff out in a live setting.

LA: Was there any particular aspect of Mineral’s music (lyrics, guitar tones, etc.) that really influenced your current sound?

Frank: The whole way Chris [Simpson] sings and writes is a huge influence to me now – the way he uses his voice, both in the physical sense and int he literary sense. I still think that’s probably the biggest influence on me in that area. I also love the production on the second record, I think Mark Trombino’s drum sounds are pretty foundational.

LA: Are there any other bands from the mid-90’s emo era that influenced your music?

Frank: I listened to a bunch of that stuff – Jimmy Eat Wrold, The Promise Ring, Christie front Drive, and so on. Mineral were far and away my favorite of the bunch, but I still listened to a fair amount of Jimmy Eat World.

LA: If you could attend a hypothetical reunion tour for one “dead” band you never had the chance to see live, who would it be?

Frank: Nirvana, circa early 1993.

Thank you to Frank Turner for taking the time to answer our questions. You can catch Frank Turner on the road with Koo Koo Kangaroo in the UK starting Thursday, September 11 in Norwich. For a full list of Frank’s tour dates, go to frank-turner.com/live-gigs. Frank Turner is expected to release his upcoming sixth studio record in early 2015. Mineral continue their reunion tour, which ends in Austin Texas in November, before hitting the United Kingdom in early 2015. You can also check out a full review of Mineral’s Bowery Ballroom show in New York City on our blog.

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Mineral and Into It. Over It. at Bowery Ballroom, 9-06-14

by Vasilis

The past and the present collided on Saturday, September 6th at New York’s Bowery Ballroom for a reunion tour that showcased the best the genre has to offer. Seminal emo group Mineral took their reunion to New York for the third of four straight nights of nostalgia, bringing along with them Evan Weiss’ emo revivalist project Into It. Over It. Mineral, who broke up in 1997 after releasing only two albums, announced their comeback in April to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of their formation. Along with a full U.S. tour to celebrate their first shows in 17 years, the band also announced Mineral – 1994-1998: The Complete Collection, containing both their albums along with some bonus tracks and recordings to mark the occasion.

Into It. Over It. strolled to the stage at 9pm to open the show. Evan, who used to perform with nothing more than a stool and acoustic guitar, has built Into It. Over It. into a four-piece band over the past two years with the help of some hometown musician friends. Following a headlining tour earlier this year with A Great Big Pile of Leaves and a supporting tour last year with Saves the Day, the band appears more comfortable with each performance, and playing the songs with full instrumentation has allowed Evan’s songs to come to life and take on a new level of energy. Songs like opening track “Embracing Facts” and “Upstate Blues” are particularly more vibrant thanks to the addition of a full backing band as opposed to a lone acoustic guitar.

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Evan’s exhibited a refreshingly self-aware attitude, announcing to the crowd “Thank you to Mineral for allowing us to come on tour and bum you guys out.” The band’s emo roots felt at home on this tour, and Evan seemed to appreciate the opportunity and embrace it fully, performing some sadder tunes (“No Amount of Sound”, “22 Syllables”). The band made sure to sprinkle in the high-energy “Discretion & Depressing People” and “Brenham, TX”, which Evan added to switch up the setlist for fans attending more than one night. The group was joined on-stage by Matt Fazzi (A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Ex-Taking Back Sunday) to perform keys on some new songs and to close the set with fan-favorite “Midnight: Carroll Street”. Into It. Over It. received a warm reaction from the crowd and proved the perfect opener for this type of show.

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Into It. Over It. Setlist:
Embracing Facts
Staring at the Ceiling
Upstate Blues
No Amount of Sound
Spinning Thread
Obsessive Compulsive Distraction
Discretion & Depressing People
Brenham, TX
22 Syllables
Wearing White
Midnight: Carroll Street

Mineral, the main attraction of the night, took the stage a little after 10pm to a raucous ovation. Vocalist/guitarist Chris Simpson playfully stated, “Tonight, we’re gonna party like it’s 1995” and truer words have never been spoke. This tour is the culmination of a wave of nostalgia which has brought about a heightened demand for emo bands from American Football to Texas is the Reason to Mineral. While these influential bands were popular in their day, the emo resurgence has allowed a younger generation to discover these bands, which existed and made their name in the mid-to-late 90’s.

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Though the band just played their first show in 17 years, they sounded great and inspired the crowd to fold their arms, nod their heads, and sing along (as Evan Weisshumorously noted during his set as being the proper action to take at an emo show). Their on-stage set-up was simple and lacking any flashy lights or colorful backdrops, focusing instead on four men pouring their heart into the music. With only two albums to choose from, the group presented a balanced mix of their heavier debut album The Power of Failing with their more emotional and slowed-down EndSerenading. Chris Simpson’s classic crooning was in top form, bringing the emotional weight of “Five, Eight, & Ten” and “February” out. The audience sang along to fan-favorites like “Gloria” and “&Serenading” as if they had been waiting their whole life to experience it. While the band members didn’t seem to exude much camaraderie as is seen during some reunion tours (turmoil while recording EndSerenading led to the break up), they all seemed genuinely happy to be playing music again and gave the audience a solid 90-minute trip down memory lane.

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The term “emo revival” is often met with scorn from older fans, finding the idea that emo went away laughable while condemning newer bands as not worthy. But what’s clear is that there is a demand for emo bands reviving. With new music from Sunny Day Real Estate, an upcoming sold-out reunion tour from American Football, and more Mineral shows in America and Europe coming for Mineral, it’s safe to say the emo resurgence continues to find an audience in older people who experienced it as it happened and younger kids who are experiencing the revival now and want to get a first-hand look at the bands who influenced the fresh wave of up-and-comers. On a night like this, it was clear that there is no competition between old and new, they can each exist in perfect harmony and compliment each other nicely.

Mineral Setlist:
Five, Eight, & Ten
Gloria
Slower
February
M.D.
ALetter
ForIvadell
SoundsLikeSunday
Unfinished
If I Could
WakingToWinter
&Serenading
LoveLetterTypeWriter (encore)
Palisade (encore)
Parking Lot (encore)

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