My Favorite Albums of 2013 – So Far

I’ve not been too impressed with music released in 2013 so far. Last year at this time, I had no problem coming up with several albums for my list of favorites released in the first half of 2012.

This year, I’m not taken with certain albums that I had really been looking forward to hearing. New music from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Paramore leave me less than thrilled. The 2012 album from Tegan and Sara is okay, but not great. Otep gave us Hydra, which is too heavy with the amount of talking on the album. Jennifer Love Hewitt, whose voice I absolutely adore, released a new single from her show, The Client List, but I’ve not seen an album. I would have absolutely loved a new Jennifer Love Hewitt album.

As I’ve admitted on this blog before, while I’ve plenty of favorite music by male vocalists from last century, I’ve found that in this century my tastes are partial to female vocalists. So the list below is biased, leaning entirely to albums with female vocalists. Don’t get all bent because I didn’t include David Bowie’s latest release, for which he couldn’t be bothered to use some decent cover art. Maybe some day I’ll bother to listen to the album. I do love Space Oddity and other classic David Bowie tracks. But I don’t get the statement he was trying to make with the cover for this latest release. I don’t need anyone’s explanation about it either. Art should stand on its own.

I don’t have enough favorite albums from the year so far to create a top 10 list. So here are my top 5 favorite albums for the first half of 2013. Continue reading

Visual Kei

English: Kyo, vocalist of Dir en grey, perform...

Kyo, vocalist of Dir en grey, performing live at Maquinaria Festival in Brazil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visual Kei is not a genre of music.

Granted, you’ll see music tagged as visual kei. It is related to music, and is very easy to confuse as a genre. It is a concept, or a lifestyle that encapsulates a handful of music genres. I’ve heard various forms of rock, punk, and darkwave music listed as visual kei.

All it really means is ‘visual style.’ I lump it all together with Japanese rock, but there are also bands outside of Japan that maintain the aesthetic as well. Continue reading

Videogame Music (No, Not More Chiptune)

Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack

Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack (Photo credit: bdcrlsn)

It’s no secret that I’m into video games. For instance, my blog is called “Black Flower Music.” I end up writing more about video games there, and all my music articles end up here. My free time is largely comprised of playing video games.

I’ve written articles on chiptune before, explaining how some people make music based off of the specialized sound chips from vintage video game consoles. This is not what I mean.

At around the time of disc-based gaming consoles began to use PCM instead of synthesized sound from a specialized chip. PCM is a technology that streams audio over a chip instead of using the on-board chip. As sound chips got more complex, you’d hear more complex music from video games.

This allowed for better sound quality in games. The spike in technology lead to fully orchestrated music and allowed for voice acting via the CD format’s ability to play Redbook Audio. Continue reading

In Honor of St. Patrick’s Day

Dropkick Murphys at the 2011 Cisco Ottawa Blue...

Dropkick Murphys at the 2011 Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest. By: Brennan Schnell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although a little late, I’ve always been looking for an excuse to share with our readers some rather under-appreciated punk music.

I’ve never been a big fan of the old Irish sea shanty sort of music. I’ve been in my friend’s car enough times with the Irish channel open on Pandora. Some of it is pretty boring. However, when mixed with punk music some of it can be pretty interesting. Continue reading

Christian Music? Yeah!

Biblical Band I was raised in a Southern Baptist household where much of my music purchases were always scrutinized before they were allowed to happen. I wasn’t always allowed to buy what I wanted, which probably explains why I’ve tried to seize everything I can get my hands on since then.

Suffice it to say, I had a large sampling of Christian music growing up. We made frequent stops to LifeWay Christian Bookstores and I’d always browse the music. My mother always had a fair amount of compilations and popular ‘contemporary Christian artists’ (read: praise pop music that isn’t gospel) sitting around. Car trips were always a blast.

There was a teen-friendly Christian club in Hendersonville called First Rock or perhaps it was First Planet on the Rock. Either way, I learned that just about any secular genre had a Christian counterpart. Not unlike the South Park episode, always replace ‘baby’ with the word Jesus, and you’ll have a hit.

I saw nu-metal, rap, ska, grunge, pop, and other sorts of music that were popular with the kids back in the early 2000s.

I was a master at the fooseball table, but always loathed the prayer sessions before the concerts.

I no longer identify as a Christian, but I still find some of its music entertaining. Let’s start out with something most people have heard of:

Stryper! This was actually the song that convinced me to make this post. I had never heard this band up until last week when my girlfriend and I were just groping around YouTube looking for music. She showed me this, and I was like, “Hell yeah!” No pun intended.

It’s just like the rest of your 80s hair metal, possibly even a bit better. It still talks about being bad, sin, hell, and Satan too! Continue reading

Support Your Local Music Scene

I’ve been feeling somewhat out of place lately when it comes to writing music reviews.

One can find and listen to almost any album they want these days. Far be it from me to pick one and suggest you listen to it. Who am I to know your tastes? I don’t.

What I do know is that music comes from somewhere. Generally from small towns and big cities. Unless it’s pop music, then it comes from a factory. I heard peaches come from there too.

I was sitting in a bar a few days ago listening to a rock band from an hour north of where I live. I can’t remember their name, but they rocked. They weren’t anything special, but I stroked my imaginary beard and said “not bad.”

This got me thinking. Often times we’ll go see a local band, and it won’t be the best music ever. However, where does music come from? With a little polish, some of these local bands could be great. What do they need to get that extra polish? They need fans attending their shows.

Some of these folks just play for a hobby. Some play because they want to make it big. Being so close to Nashville, many folks tend to have stars in their eyes.

Time and again, I hear complaints that everything sounds the same. Go to a local show. Try something new. Give a young (or old) creative mind some support in doing what (s)he loves.

Support your local music scene. Help keep creativity alive, give musicians a reason to not be stale. Give yourself a reason to get out of your house with your fancy surround sound. Go listen to a terrible band. Better yet, go listen to a decent band. Either way, you’re helping dreamers dream.

Isn’t that what music should be about?

2012 – A Year In Musical Memes

Seeing as I did not listen to very many new albums in 2012 that I haven’t already reviewed I decided to go in a different direction with what stood out to me, musically.

A meme is a term thrown around that is a fancy way of saying something that is virally spread to common culture. Sure, some songs get popular, but some songs become memes. The ones in this list stood out most to me. Whether it was image macros, video parodies, or seeing everyone lambast their poor quality all over my Facebook wall. These are a few of the top memes this year relating to music. Continue reading

Revisiting Witch House Part 2

In the first part of the Witch House review, I covered two artists that were relatively recent. However, neither were really the sort of Witch House I’ve come to really appreciate engaging in.

This time, we’ll be focusing on two groups that may not be considered Witch House either, but tend to draw many influences from it. In fact, Bruxa’s tags on bandcamp identify them as post-Witch House.

I must admit, I’m still rather confused by this genre. There really isn’t a clear cut definition, but I suppose it’s better that way. Homogenized music is a killer.

With that in mind, take any of these songs as examples of what post-Witch House would sound like. You have more glitch, hip hop, and dubstep elements mixed in with what traditionally makes Witch House. Bruxa provides the same effect any other band in the genre would albeit with a different approach.

Honestly, I find this approach much more entertaining. Whether I’m listening to the dubstep track Paperweight Pt. 1 or the more rap oriented track Trill Witch I’m still finding those choppy and dark landscapes forming.

This leads me to conclude that Witch House is STILL not a genre. It’s a gag. It’s an idea. It’s a tag. Saying that Witch House was a genre would be like saying ‘sad songs’ were a genre. Perhaps they are, but the distinction is that any song can be a sad song. It doesn’t have to be house music to be a Witch House track. There are no lines drawn here, no judgments. Continue reading

Revisiting Witch House Part 1

Veins You may recall an older article I wrote about a genre called Witch House. It was a gag genre of “House” electronic music that gave the joke a middle finger and kept making music.

According to the comments of that article, I only looked at older Witch House.

I really had little idea of what bands to look up. All I had was a keyboard, a search engine, and a heart of gold.

I’ve found some newer stuff to share. There are things a little bit more indicative of its more modern sound. Continue reading

I don’t like…

I’ve never been a big fan of judging others’ music tastes, so it always bothers me when people critique my own.

I like what I like because I have an inquisitive nature. I want to listen to as much as I can. I don’t always enjoy all of it, but that doesn’t make me a lesser person.

For instance, I will always tell you that I don’t like The Beatles and Elvis. Verily, this does tend to enrage the everyman. I don’t respect you any less for enjoying these two, and I don’t see why you shouldn’t do the same for me.

Truth be told, there are a handful of Beatles songs I do enjoy, but they are few and far between. I’m not discounting their importance, but I simply do not like listening to them much.

Apparently, it is a great travesty to not like certain musicians. If you don’t like them, then you obviously have horrid tastes because, well, everybody listens to that group.

It’s like trying to explain to a bunch of gamers that Final Fantasy VII isn’t the best game in the world. You could use Maya Angelou as an example as well. Gosh, there are some things that are just wrong not to like.

Please. If I had to roll my eyes any harder, they would fall out.

I like what I like. You like what you like. Leave me alone.

There was a point in my life where a group of coworkers and I jokingly became fans of the whole Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus venture. I ended up not minding the music so much. I recognized it for what it was and maintained ample enjoyment out of it.

Then there are some people who say: “Oh, well, you listen to Miley Cyrus, so your opinion doesn’t matter.”

This kind of mentality really gets my goat. It is annoying sometimes trying to have an actual conversation about music with someone who honestly only listens to a very small diverse section of music. Go back and read my article You don’t like everything to get some further insight on this.

Just because there are a handful of what you’d normally consider guilty pleasures doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to the things I like.

This is one of the reasons why I find it difficult to talk about music other than here on this blog. I feel like, as someone who truly enjoys music, it is not an easy task communicating with people who just listen to pass the time. I take it seriously, and it shouldn’t matter what I like.