These are the songs that have been inspiring us this month with some features from artists we've had the pleasure of performing with.
Rammstein is an Industrial/Hard Rock band that formed in Berlin, Germany around 1994 under the name Rammstein-Flugschau (Rammstein Airshow) after the 1988 Ramstein air show disaster in 1988. According to guitarist Paul Landers, the extra m was a spelling error.
Engel was the first single released for Rammstein's second album Sehnsucht and released with a music video that heavily references the film 'From Dusk Till Dawn,' great film by the way! The chorus of this song features the female vocalist, Christiane Hebold, who performed in the German pop band 'Bobo in White Wooden Houses.'
Musically Engel starts with a solitary whistle melody before being joined by the dance-inspired bassline. This bass groove forms the basis of the whole song and is joined sporadically throughout by a heavy guitar line that accentuates the groove of the bass part. Musically it’s great it grooves hard enough that you can dance to it very easily and the guitar hits hard enough that you can get your headbang on as well. Its a win, win situation!
Lyrically this song is about Angels and how good people become them when they die, it also claims that to be an Angel is a precarious, scary and lonely thing to be and that when the singer dies he doesn't wish to become an Angel. However if you look at the meaning in a more metaphorical way you could view it as meaning that people are so concerned with leading a good life on earth in order to get into heaven they don't live their lives on earth fully, and these lyrics are them saying they would rather live their lives on earth to the fullest instead of not in the hopes of a better life afterwards.
The Friendly Fires
Friendly Fires are an English Dance inspired Indie Rock group that formed in 2006. They were named for the opening track of British post-punk band Section 25’s LP always now. The song I’ve chosen today comes from their third studio album, and first in 11 years, Inflorescent.
The track Silhouettes is musically very upbeat with a very catchy vocal refrain, excellent backing vocals an infectious bass groove and great synth work throughout. It does great work keeping the momentum going throughout the song with small peaks and troughs to keep the track interesting and not too sterile. The middle 8 makes great use of dropping the energy before building it back up again, this just makes that final chorus hit all the harder. And the outro drops down again before weaving itself wonderfully into the next song.
Lyrically this song is about drifting apart from someone who you care about and making a final effort to see them and reconcile your feelings for them and salvage the relationship that you had, and that doing this is worth the cost of doing so.
Primus is a band that is difficult to put a genre label on and thanks to Les Claypool a bass player’s dream, in their catalogue; there is an eclectic mix of alt-rock, funk-rock, prog-rock, country, folk, metal etc. all of which manages to sound uniquely Primusesque. They formed in 1984 in San Fransico California and were uniquely shaped by their bass player and frontman Les Claypool whose eclectic taste in music ranges from the outright weird, see the residents, to the prog-rock sensibilities of bands like Pink Floyd and King Crimson. The track I’ve chosen today comes from their sixth studio album Antipop.
This track was produced in part by Nu Metal staple Fred Durst, don’t worry though if your not a fan of Limp Bizkit and Fred Durst’s output this song is still full-fledged Primus. That probably wasn’t as reassuring as I’d hoped… Musically this track features a very percussive bass groove which is the backbone of the song. This groove is accentuated by the relatively simple drum groove and by the guitar stabs that come in on the songs weak beats. In the chorus, the groove gives way to a big nu-metal style section. This is the first hint of Fred Durst’s influence on the song, the second hint of his influences is in the bridge section where everything drops out and a weird spacy, almost definitely drug trip inspired, section comes in. This serves to make the final chorus hit extra hard with some very nice adlibs along the way.
Lyrically this track is about drug abuse and follows three characters through their bad drug experiences. The first incident speaks of a young somewhat antisocial boy who at the encouragement of his older brother sniffs an unknown inhalent and destroys his mind. The second after sniffing Turpentine fell in front of a truck in her inebriated state. The final victim through their solvent misuse ended up in a coma. The lyrics in this song are heavily anti-solvent misuse and yet the video which also painted this in a negative light was banned on MTV.
C’est La Vie
Keep The Village Alive
Stereophonics are a Welsh band formed in 1992. They are an alt-rock band who despite the ebbing relevance of rock music in the mainstream have managed to keep themselves if not in the limelight, then at least very close to it. To be fair its not hard to see why with the quantity and quality of the singles they have put out over the years… Something that our Sam has recently come around on!
C’est la vie musically is an upbeat rock song that builds slowly towards the choruses before exploding in a fit of energy. The choruses main hook is the backing vocals exclaiming ‘we don’t belong anywhere.’ The bridge climbs and builds frantic energy before crashing down into a subdued verse before the chorus kicks in again. If you want to sing along to this song you better take a deep breath as Kelly Jones’ vocals are frantic and he barely has any time to take a breath. The outro has a nice single-note guitar line which helps highlight the chords that by the end of the song we are very familiar with and helps give them some more context.
Lyrically there is a lot going on here, I mean just listen to it there’s is barely a moment in this song where there is not some fast-paced singing! This song seems to me to be about living moment to moment and not feeling like your going anywhere. There are hints towards regretting not taking chances on things or people and the regret involved in that and the emotion involved in seeing those with whom you have these unresolved emotions towards. There are also hints towards feeling like you’ve outgrown your surroundings and are feeling unfulfilled but unable to move on for some reason. Towards the end of the song, this is explored further, it does this by suggesting that they are too busy looking back to realise what’s in front of them and trying to remedy that backwards-facing attitude
Queens Of The Stone Age
Queens Of The Stone Age (QOTSA) is an American rock band who formed in 1996 from the ashes of lead singer Josh Homme’s former band Kyuss. ...Like Clockwork is QOTSA’s sixth studio album, and in my opinion, is their best work and one of my favourite albums of all time!
The song starts off soft and sombre with melancholy piano chords and joshes haunting falsetto vocals. The track builds with ambient guitars and an acoustic guitar strumming the chords behind the piano. After an extended intro the energy spikes with a triumphant yet still melancholy fuzz guitar solo that is ornamented beautifully by the backing. That builds to a big crescendo before falling in energy again similarly to the intro section but with a bass grooving under the chords which help keep the momentum while returning to the melancholy feel and Josh’s Vocals.
Lyrically this song is difficult to pin down as it is full of metaphor. I feel like this song is about time and how little of it we all have. Another aspect of this I believe is coming to terms with ageing, I think this shown best of all in the lyrics “Holding on too long is just a fear of letting go” and “One thing that is clear its all downhill from here” This ties in with some of the lyrical themes earlier in the album, I think this can be backed up by the fact that Josh Homme, the lead singer and main songwriter of the band had recently turned 40. Overall this is a beautiful song with a haunting atmosphere and an excellent fuzz guitar solo with a lush orchestration behind it!
Wheels of Fire
Cream were hailed as the world’s first super group featuring Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.
This song has always been a favourite since the moment I heard it. Clapton’s wah playing is outstanding and it’s everything you would expect from the world’s first super group in terms of their style. Lyrics provided by the poet Pete Brown who wrote most their lyrics alongside the band members.
The track was recorded for the studio half of their third album ‘Wheels of Fire’ and the album became the world’s first platinum selling double album.
Derek and the Dominoes
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
I’m clearly going through a Clapton phase this month…
If you’ve ever picked up a guitar, chances are you’ve at least heard this or played it. One of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time really. I believe it was written for and about Pattie Boyd who was married to George Harrison of The Beatles who Clapton eventually married in the late 70’s.
The first time I heard this track and the riff it was one of those ‘wow’ moments which cemented the fact that I wanted to learn how to play guitar. There are so many guitar layers on this track which helps give it that driving force from the get go. I think there was around six rhythm tracks, three harmony parts and then the lead lines. Possibly more.
The slide parts on this track are provided by Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers band. Derek and the Dominoes had a short lived career with this being their only studio album. The track ends with a beautiful piano led section which nicely closes the track.
There’s also a cover of Hendrix’s Little Wing which was recorded as a tribute to him.
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part One
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
This song has been a favourite of mine for years. My dad actually bought the album when it first came out and this track was always a stand out for me. So I’ve been listening to this since I was 11...worrying thought.
The mix of synth’s along with acoustic instruments and percussion gives the song its own unique identity. There’s some extremely nice backing vocal melodies that help the song float along. The Flaming Lips were definitely on another level when they were writing this album.
If you want to be really confused then have a listen to their version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album or their version of Sgt Peppers.
Black Magic Woman
The earliest version of Fleetwood Mac gave the world this gem which has been covered by probably every blues band in the world at some point. The most notable cover is obviously the Santana version.
Written by Peter Green during his stay in Fleetwood Mac, the track has an unmistakeable intro, the verses follow a typical blues 12 bar pattern which then lends itself to the solo section before returning the verse and then erupting in to the shuffled outro riff and jam.
The playing on this track is a perfect example of how the blues should be played in my opinion. B.B King and Eric Clapton were huge fans of Peter Green’s playing so that says it all really.
Prince and the Revolution
Let’s Go Crazy
This track starts with the infamous Prince eulogy speech that no one else could do. I certainly can’t remember any other songs starting with a speech accompanied by an organ.
Once the speech is over the song erupts in to an extremely nice and overdriven guitar riff layered with keyboards. The track then keeps the same energy throughout and features two tasty guitar solo’s played by the man himself along with the usual backing vocal parts from the Revolution.
The song then ends up running in to an ascending guitar riff before coming to an abrupt stop with a nice wah lick to finish things off before the descending run brings the song to an end.
I always pick the underrated bands and these guys come in very near the top! Combining elements from Queen and The Darkness with a circus like feel, this band utilise the piano as a lead instrument more than most. This song in particular showcases that perfectly.
Come Back Around
Comfort in Sound
These guys are Welsh apparently? From the underrated to the nostalgic, with songs like Buck Rogers and Just a Day, rock trio Feeder have nothing less to offer than hit after memorable hit. I've gone for something from their heavier side because when a band goes heavy, I'm sold!
Downside to Heaven is the Upside To Hell
I'm a UFO in This City
Yet another underrated band whom we saw collectively support The Darkness in 2013. Derby based band Lost Alone were very much the epitome of Emo especially after working with Emo legend himself Gerard Way. I remember first hearing them on Scuzz years ago and listened to their discography straight away. This song is chosen due to its outro...how many more vocal layers could they get on this one track?
Coheed and Cambria
Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
Riff!! This song is almost symphonic and completely operatic, with a slap bassed verse, dual solos and a chant throughout the "third act". Coheed and Cambria always deliver and Claudio Sanchezs voice and hair are just glorious.
And to end I've gone for yet something that's heavy again. Epic band, epic live band and one of the hardest working bands I've ever come across. Taken from my favourite album of theirs, Amarylis, this song is a combination of heaviness and groove throughout thanks to the rhythm section. Shinedown are just awesome!
Dead Girl Walking
Three rock chicks playing Rock n Roll, what’s not to love. Combining what sounds like a riff Angus Young has written with Joan Jett on the front, the song is the girls debut single and as debuts go, this is sounding huge! With a chorus you’ll be singing for days, be sure to follow them. Artwork is badass too!
The Kaizens are another band from our neck of the woods. They are a four piece indie rock band who are influenced by bands such as The 1975 and the Kooks. They got a great boost when their single Fallout was featured on the reality show Made In Chelsea... Though that show isn’t really to our tastes it was a great win for a local unsigned band.
You is an upbeat song about one of the big topics of music, Love. The guitar work on this track is excellent and provides great momentum to it. The arc of the music is also really well planned utilising the classic drop in momentum before exploding back out with the very catchy chorus. If alternative and indie music are some of your choice genres you can certainly do a lot worse than these boys and this track!
Sink or Swim
Sink or Swim E.P
New Daze are a duo hailing from our neck of the woods and are starting to experiment with a full band set up. They are heavily influenced by folk and blues and this song is no different
This song is sung by Jessy who also plays ukulele both live and on the recordings. This track is upbeat sounding but this belies the lyrical meaning of the song which to our ears is about the struggles of living in a small town and trying to make it as an artist and juggling making a living with pursuing fulfilment at your craft. All in all this is a great song with an upbeat foot tapping beat and great interplay between Olly’s guitar and Jessy’s uke!
One Track Mind
The Stone Angels
Spirit Love and Higher Meanings
Second track from our debut. This is our call back to classic Funk tracks heavily influenced by artists like Stevie Wonder. The riff was originally written in standard as we jammed it at a few sound checks. Due to the influence of Stevie Wonder, we decided to change the tuning of this song to flat just as Stevie did in his mega hit ‘Superstition’. The idea to add horns originated whilst recording this track as we felt the song needed a little added brass that little resulted in to being all over this short but sweet three minute Funk jam.
Big River are a London based 4 piece who perform blues rock and take great inspiration from the rock greats of the 70’s. They have played up and down the country and have even supported a favourite of ours... local Heroes The Kris Barrass Band!
This track is an incredibly groovy blues shuffle with heaps of swagger! The backing on the choruses adds a sweetness on top of the gravelly vocals of the lead vocalists and as for the guitar work it works excellently with the rising tension of the song with the bass supplementing the solos with some tasty licks of his own. All in all an excellent blues rock song from a band that clearly have a lot of talent and have respect for the roots of their chosen genre.