Tuesday, December 29, 2009
It was around 1988 and Suicidal Tendencies were just starting their transformation from a flat-out hardcore punk band to a punk band merging their earlier influences with metal and by that I mean speed metal. This new sounding ST made their debut with 1988’s How Will I Laugh Tomorrow…When I Can’t Even Smile Today. On that record was one of their best forays into the new sound: “Trip at the Brain.”
Kicking off with an excellent riff by the always amazing Rocky George, the rest of the band speeds up behind him and Mike Muir comes in with lyrics about drug abuse that really spoke of the times. But as the song goes on, the tempo gets quicker and things start to go rushing by you. As drummer R.J. Herrera and short-lived bassist Bob Heathcote get things kicking down, Mike’s lyrics become quicker and the band begin racing through it all as fast as they can and it all sounds excellent.
The band’s speed here is amazing but this song and every other song on the record paved the way for their crowning achievement, 1990’s Lights…Camera…Revolution! But this song is as good speed metal as anything by Megadeth, Exodus or Testament. If you thought that the only good ST was “Institutionalized,” then all you need to do is listen to “Trip at the Brain” and you’ll be hooked and never wanna go back to “Institutionalized” again.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Forgotten Songs of the ‘90s: House of Love
While there are some bands that suffer from a lack of material and time, there are some that suffer from an overabundance of both and that can cause a lot of confusion among consumers and also can result in a lot of great songs being lost in the cracks. One of the best examples of this is the House of Love’s 1990 gem “Beatles and the Stones.”
The House of Love were a British alt-rock band in a time when Britain was obsessed with dance bands like New Order and Happy Mondays. As a result of basically not enough attention, the band released more than enough singles to keep their fans satisfied. By the time of “Beatles and the Stones’” release in 1990, the band had already released about eight singles and one full-length. The fact that the second album was self-titled as well as the first one caused some fans and critics confusion so in the U.S., the album is referred to as Fontana.
In the U.S., their label kept trying to push them through into the mainstream, the band just didn’t have the power to do so despite the strength of overall material. “Beatles and the Stones” is one of those songs that sounds so pristine and beautiful and yet delivers a wallop when it comes to messages. While of course being nostalgic about a simpler time in music with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the song’s chorus helps bring it all home by saying that the music of the Beatles and the Stones “made it good to be alone.” Just repeating that again and again makes the song all the more powerful.
Despite the song’s massive strength, it failed to cross over to the American landscape and couldn’t set the world alight. The band kept on releasing records, at least three more by 1994, but by the end, it was clear that the band was releasing too much material for their own good. The band disbanded and faded into relative obscurity but lately as a result of having reunited, their legacy has grown exponentially and looks to get bigger the more people hear songs like “Beatles and the Stones.”
Thursday, December 3, 2009
When Suicide Machines’ major-label debut, Destruction by Definition was released in 1996, it was a gigantic slap in the face to all of the ‘punk’ that was out at the moment. By going back and doing things so quickly and efficiently, the band was able to prove to people that you could still play loud, fast, aggressive punk and it can reach an audience.
Opening with the furious double assault of “New Girl” and “S.O.S.,” the band immediately made an impression with how fast and quick the material was. Even better, the melodies were all there and it didn’t matter if you weren’t into punk because you could hear how melodic and powerful the songs were even through the screaming.
One of the record and the band’s greatest strengths was drummer Derek Grant; before he toned his style down to suit the music of his new band Alkaline Trio, Grant was an absolute powerhouse who could pound the shit out of everything around him but yet still bring it back to the core of the song.
The album’s absolute centerpiece in my opinion is “Vans Song,” an ode to shoes but also a diss at people more concerned with image than comfort. Containing one of the best lines in punk history, “I don’t give a shit about you stupid motherfuckers,” it’s one of the best punk songs ever and will continue to live on.
Though the band continued to change over the years, from trying to top this record with the speed and quickness of 1998’s lackluster Battle Hymns to the politico/back to basics sound of their farewell, War Profiteering is Killing Us All, the band would never come close to topping this one and it’s quite a record to leave as a legacy.