Supppp? This week, I'd like some input from you guys. As evident with the number attached to this blog's latest title, I'm getting old - will you still need me, will you still read me, when I'm sixty fourrrr?? - and I'm thinking of injecting a little fresh air into the blog. Basically, I may toy with the format to change it up a bit. To keep things more on the side of music news entertainment (and maybe to make the blogs a little shorter I know nobody actually enjoys reading large chunks of text), I'm thinking of dividing the blog into between 3-5 individual sections every week, highlighting the week's most interesting news items - Song of the Week, Band of the Week, Pick of the Week, Guitarist of the Week, Idiot of the Week... something along those lines.
So I'm going to try out the new format now and see what you guys think. If it's something you're into, we can go with that; however, if you enjoy and prefer the usual main topic, essay-like format of the usual blog approach, let me know in the comments. Whatever tickles the fancy of my Friday readers, I want to know.
So let's start off and highlight UG's Band of the Week.
Band Of The Week: Muse
We've read a lot about Muse as of late. In the past month, we've sampled three new tracks off the band's upcoming album, "The 2nd Law:" "Survival," the bombastic official song of the London Olympics, "Unsustainable," the notorious "dubstep" track that clearly shows Muse diving further and further into the bowels of electronic music, and now this week, we were introduced to "Madness," a synth-based pop ballad that's understandably gotten a mixed reaction.
In another story, Muse admitted that U2 was a major inspiration for the current album, and the band was even given kudos by Coldplay's Chris Martin for their "Madness". Basically, it's clear that Muse is now firmly rooted in that upper echelon of arena rock bands like U2, Coldplay, and Queen. Undeniably, "Madness" is reminiscent of Queen's "I Want to Break Free." If you think about it though, Muse is following a similar career path that Queen did.
Like Muse, Queen started out as a fairly hard rocking band (seriously, listen to some of "Queen II" it's heavy as hell!). Like Muse, Queen had a quirkiness and uniqueness to the sound, which separated them as being a special band with real musical potential and room to grow. As time went on and they reached platinum success, Queen delved more and more into the pop world, favoring radio-friendly, synth-laden, dance-ish, and considerably cheesy music ("Radio Gaga," "I Want To Break Free," etc.) They were still a great band, just considerably different.
You could equate Queen's "A Night at the Opera" to Muse's "Absolution" - the artistic masterpieces recorded at the brink of the bands' splashes into mainstream popularity. Both albums showed a great deal of experimentation, contained a heaping and satisfying amount of rock, and showcased a real honest execution of the bands' skills and visions.
Since "Absolution", Muse has gone in an eclectic direction, which has both brought in new listeners and alienated/annoyed longtime fans. Their subsequent albums can be considered more poppy and less creative. But I think Muse is enjoying a luxury bands get to have once they hit it big - once the fanbase is secured, they're no longer starving or in need of second jobs to make ends meet; they have money and resources; they have the fortune to flex their creative muscles and create music that they enjoy, not necessarily worrying about releasing music that'll turn some noses.
Check out this interview with Muse talking about the new record - by no means does it seem that the band is purely trying to cash in on new trends, which they've been accused of doing. What it seems like is that the band wants to play the music they enjoy listening to and make it their own - some R&B, dance music, symphonic movie score-like tunes. They can, so they will, hence tracks like "Unsustainable" or "Madness."
Basically, it'll be interesting to hear the final album, even though the tracks they've released so far haven't been well received within the rock community. Maybe it will kick ass, or maybe it'll contain more skippable tracks than enjoyable ones...kind of like late-era Queen.
Stud Of The Week: Chad Kroeger
Out of nowhere, we learned that Nickelback's mastermind, Chad Kroeger, is going to marry fellow-Canadian, Avril Lavigne. Considering how sad it is that this type of news story is the UG equivalent to tabloid fodder, I'm going to flex my creative writing muscle and try to see if I can get a job with Entertainment Tonight. (Read this news blurb with that snide Hollywood tabloid news announcer voice):
Sorry, all you sk8er boys, but the loose tie-wearing rocker Avril Lavigne is off the market! Everybody's favorite girlfriend is going to tie the knot with fellow Canadian rocker, Nickelback's Chad Kroeger. The two apparently got hot and heavy in the recording studio as Kroeger helped write new material for Lavigne's upcoming record. Let's just hope things don't get too complicated and we'll get too see some lavish photographs from Chavril's wedding ceremony!
DamnI could work for TMZ.
Anywhooo.... then in Canadian tradition, the wedded couple will exit the church as guests throw hockey pucks at them, Canadian Mounties will lend them their horses and they'll trot off into the forest for a winter's honey(maple syrup)moon.
Good for them. Let's just hope Nickelback doesn't write a song about skateboarding now.
Pick Of The Week: Django Reinhardt - Keep Cool (Guitar Solos 1950-1953)
Often, new music just seems uninspiring. Luckily, we always have the old stuff. My pick for this week features one of the finest jazz guitarists of the 20th century.
I've been getting into gypsy jazz lately, and fortunately, there are plenty of Django Reinhardt records out there to keep me busy for a long time. If you play guitar and haven't heard Django yetwell, you best get to it and check him out.
This particular record features late-era Django (he died in 1953 of a brain hemorrhage) and contains a full jazz sextet moving through some tasty Django compositions and other jazz standards. Interestingly, it features Django on an electric guitar, which he reluctantly started playing later on in his career. The music features a more bebop vibe instead of his earlier gypsy jazz styling. Listening to this record will up your class about 10 points and help you understand guitar "shredding" in a much more sophisticated sense. Seriously, go for it.
And that's about it for now. Enjoy your weekend, check out some Django and listen to some early Muse. Also, if you have a record player, try this: if you spin a Nickelback vinyl in reverse, you'll actually hear a coded message from Chad Kroeger and Avril Lavigne prophesying the inception of their demon spawn. Crazy, huh?
On The Next It's The End Of The Week As We Know It:
Following advice from Marilyn Manson and Jack Black on becoming a rockstar, aspiring rocker, "300" actor Gerard Butler, seeks out the band Sparta for an obvious collaborative album, "This is Sparta!"
Saddened after Dee Snyder denounced vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's usage of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," Ryan reluctantly chooses Quiet Riot's "Cum on Feel the Noize" as his official campaign song.
Trying to one-up Chad Kroeger, Creed's Scott Stapp rushes off to Vegas and marries pop singer Ke$ha.
By Zach Pino