New(ish) Music – Friday! Royal Blood

I’m going to start this one with a rant… and then a review… and who knows what else!

When one of my favorite bands releases a new album, I like to listen to it, in its entirety, a few times, before making an assessment.

The problem is this: Today, bands like the hype leading up to an album, MORE than they like giving their listeners something new to listen to.

Which brings me to today’s album review: How Did We Get So Dark, by Royal Blood.

Royal Blood is a 2 piece power duo, with a very unique sound. Aside from the obvious drumming & vocals, all of the rest of the noise you’re hearing comes from a bass guitar that runs through an intricate array of effect pedals, and ends up sounding like a grunge orchestra.

From start to finish, this album is solid rock and roll. Gritty, raw, and real. I remember reading a review with Mike Kerr (bass,vocals) where he discussed not wanting to record anything that he can’t replicate in a live setting.  THAT is my attraction to this band, because too many musicians rely on loops, instead of raw talent.

I will say, I was a little discouraged on listening to this 10 track album, for the first time, because 4 of the songs have already been previously released (1 of which was over a year ago…) and they have kind of lost their “new song sparkle” to me. Which is what I was referring to, in my earlier rant. I don’t want to get a “New Album” and have heard almost half of it already… I want to have a fresh experience, and have my ears tickled with new art.

That being said, the subsequent tracks on the album are incredible. Mike Kerr’s mastery of his monstrous pedalboard, mixed with powerful muse-like vocals, and riff-rock bass playing; backed by the solidity of Ben Thatcher on the drums, give you an album that is worth your attention!

It’s hard to make a dent in the music scene like Royal Blood has, in such little time, then be under pressure after a few years of touring to write a follow-up album and have it be good. They have gone above and beyond our expectations, and delivered another fantastic release!

My only hope is that we get another Royal Blood album before 2020!!!

Here’s some more blog posts, on this fantastic band:

Michelle Geslani on the new album
Speedy Sailor on “Lights Out”
jokevrijens on the most recent single “I only lie when I love you” , before the album’s release

Thanks for reading! I hope you have a great weekend!

Impressive impressions

Impression

 

What does it mean to leave an impression? This is important to me, as I try to carry myself in a professional light, as a musician and entertainer.  I know so many musicians who are just… slobs. They dress poorly, show up late, act like children, and honestly just make me want to make an impression on their face… with my fist.

That being said, the bar is set pretty low, in my area, as far as musicians go.  In fact, when my wife met me, she was leery because I was a ‘musician.’ Most musicians she knew, before me were pompous, arrogant, unprofessional, dirty, and most of all impolite.

I’m not saying I’m the most gentlemanly person on the planet, but if you’re going to do what I do, and be somewhat successful, you need to get your shit together and act like an adult.

What does that mean?

Show up to your gigs early:  Trust me, you look like a total tool, when you’re trying to rush around and set things up.. That’s when you make mistakes.  Nothing turns a crowd away from a band faster, then having microphones squeal and there being a large ruckus where the band/solo artist is setting up.

Dress the part: I’m not saying you have to be in full rockstar garb all the time, but try to look presentable. You’re holey Led Zepplin Tshirt from 1981 is not impressive. Wearing a nice button down shirt, jeans that aren’t falling off of you, and looking relatively well kept are not hard things to do.  Now, If you’re in a 90’s grunge band, and you’re playing at a venue, go ahead, wear ripped jeans and flannel..  I’m focusing more on the acoustic aspect of things. I’m pretty sure Dave Grohl isn’t reading this blog, so real rock-stars need not apply.

Be respectable: Walk into the place, without a chip on your shoulder, find the nearest bartender/server/whoever is in charge, and figure out where you are to set up. Say please and thank you. Order a drink, pay for that drink, and worry about what’s free later on.  REMEMBER, they are a business just as much as you are. You’re not doing any favors by drinking and eating all of their food for free.

DO NOT HAVE A RIDICULOUS GUEST LIST: Especially, if you are playing with other bands and charging a cover. Pick one: your girl/boy-friend, your favorite roadie, your corgi, I don’t care. Don’t expect to get your whole entourage in to the place for nothing. If there’s no cover, that’s fine, don’t try and get everyone free stuff, while you’re playing. Again, the venue is a business, and needs to be respected as such.

There’s just a few tips on leaving impressions, as a musician. I have so many of stories of groups that have done some seriously asinine things, and I wonder how they even manage to book gigs (most of them don’t anymore.)

Remember, live music and music venues need to work hand-in-hand to be successful.  Don’t expect them to do all of the promoting. I know you’re too busy changing the world with your music, but making a Facebook event and inviting your following only takes about 10 minutes.

Alright, I’ve rambled on long enough. What other tips do you guys have, to leave great impressions?

 

-Joe

I can’t figure this out…

This isn’t so much a post, as a “How the hell am I supposed to do this?!”

I absolutely, for the life of me, can not figure out how to get my site to properly display my Twitter feed….

I’ve tried the widget, I’ve tried direct HTML, I’ve tried everything!!

How the heck does it work?! Help!!!

It’s rainy out.. let’s talk about passion!

Good afternoon readers,

Today, let’s talk about the thing that makes you feel awkward, when you get too involved describing the things you love most: Passion.

I am a person of varying hobbies: from working on cars, to playing music, videogames, building things, small electronics, fixing things (mainly my guitar player’s equipment)… The list is endless… and every hobby that I have the ability to enjoy, I am extremely passionate about.

I never realized just HOW deeply I involve myself in things, until the one day I was having a conversation with my brother-in-law about music, at great depths, and he kind of chuckled. When I asked what was up, he simply said “Nothing, I just love the passion that you have for music. It’s very refreshing, that you don’t hold back.”

It was at that point that I realized, I do view my world a little differently, than most people.

I don’t just LISTEN to music. I can’t just hear a song and say “oh, that’s a good song.”  There has to be some nostalgic feeling, a specific chord progression that brings emotion, or just intense lyrical ideas to catch my attention.

I’m the type of person who will listen to a song, for that one moment, that brings the whole thing together. It could be a strong harmony, a well placed syncopated rhythm, remarkable drumming… anything… but when I know it’s coming, you’ll know, because I”ll tell you to shut up and listen.

For example:
In the band Royal Blood’s song “Out of the Black” The chorus has a line that about struck me speechless, the first time I heard it.

“I’ve got a gun for a mouth, and a bullet with your name on it.”

How powerful is that? It’s a lyric, mimicking the idea of your tongue being a powerful weapon, as if you should have a carrying permit to speak, for the amount of damage it can do to a person.
That stems back to Biblical times… take your attention to Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

What he’s done here, is taken an age-old concept, and brought it to modern ideology… Kind of… more of the piercing sword, less of the wise healing.

Most people would just listen to the song and be like “oh, that’s cool.”
The difference between them and me, is passion.

Another one:
I’ve been playing video games ever since I was old enough to hold a controller. In the 25+ years that I’ve been a gamer, I’ve come to enjoy the captivating stories that RPG style games offer.

And you can’t say RPG games, without mentioning the hardest hitting one of all: Final Fantasy VII.
This, is literally the game that made me realize video games have a higher purpose than just being the world’s best babysitter.

I can’t even tell you how many hours of my life have been spent on this gem, since it came out in 1997. I’ve explored every nook and cranny of the title, and never gotten bored with the story. The main character fights this overbearing concept of “Who am I?” throughout the entire story. It’s a very dark story, lots of death and corruption, but always this underlying concept the whole time, and I believe that game came out, in an era where ‘fighting the power’ was a big concept. Teens were viewed as rebellious and confused. We were in this constant struggle to find out our purpose, and to make sure it was fitting to our desires. It came out in a time, where the media was slowly taking over our lives, and feeding us the information they thought we should know, and the world was slowly falling into despair and corruption. It very well mimicked the times.

Aside from that, EVERY character in the game had a purpose, and if you paid attention, you got a plethora of backstory without having to dig too much. Then in the subsequent sequels, prequels, and side-stories; you were met with the REST of the story, that you may have missed, if you weren’t paying attention.

I’m doing me best to not spoil a game that came out 20 years ago, but with the remake on the way, anyone who’s interested is going to come across it.

Again, I barely have touched the surface of how deep and emotional this game is, and I’m already rambling on, like an idiot.

 

So, there it is… Passion, it’s what fuels our creative juices… I think, especially in a community like this, passion is an everyday thing.
What are some things you are passionate about? I’d really like to hear. When people share their passions, you are seeing a deep side of them. You’re seeing what they’re made of.

-Joe

In Response to: What’s that one thing you are most passionate about?