Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review

It is that time of year again...time for me to reflect on the outgoing year whether it was good or bad. Music-wise, 2013 was a great year. That is if you get past a certain ditzy pop star and her public shenanigans (whom I refuse to mention her name on my blog) in an attempt to shed her child star image and make that transition into adulthood.

I don't know if I can say 2013 was the best year ever for music. That would really be stretching things a bit for me. To be blunt, there were quite a few disappointments this year, more so than in previous years. I was really unimpressed with the new albums by The Civil Wars (whose two members are experiencing their own civil war with each other), Covenant, VNV Nation, Lady Gaga, and Skinny Puppy to just name a few. But for every disappointing album, there is more albums that I heard this year that I do love. Tales of Us by Goldfrapp, Autumn Ruins by Blume,  The Bones of What We Believe by Chvrches, and Kamikakushi by MergingMoon is evidence just how good 2013 was good for music.

Discovered quite a few new bands this year especially from Japan. The thrash metal band MergingMoon was the first of a handful of Japanese underground bands that I discovered. Of all places, I had heard about them via the idiot box (i.e television). Then there is the cyberpunk band Baal who has a debut album coming out on Metropolis Records thanks to Cevin Key of Skinny Puppy. They even came to the US (Los Angeles I believe) to play a show. Other bands I should mention is 2 Bullet, Psydoll, and Valkilly.

Asides from those bands, this year for me was the year of Noblesse Oblige. I believe it was the Absolute Grrrls Manifesto Chapter One compilation that was my first introduction to the band. When I first heard their track "The Great Electrifier", I could have sworn I was listening to Kirlian Camera set to dance beats. When the video for "Runaway" came out soon after I had gotten the Alfa Matrix compilation, I knew this German/Parisian duo was going to be my favorite find of 2013 (like Future Perfect was for me in 2012). While a lot of people in the scene are listening to the more recognizable bands, I am trying to break out of that rut and really push bands who aren't as recognizable like Noblesse Oblige. Other faves includes: Junksista (their lyrics cracks me up and I adore the way Diana delivers the lyrics, she has such a distinct manner in which she sings that makes her stands out from a lot of singers today), and Mr.Kitty (a young but really talented guy from Texas).

Concert-wise: 2013 definitely was a great year for concerts. I went to a lot of local shows as well as national shows. There are three local bands that I am keeping my eye out on...Absynthe of Faith (who was formed in 2007 but just started seeing them live this year) and Promidal. Promidal is easily my current favorite local band. They have such a visual presence and sound that sticks with the audience members. I find their live shows highly entertaining. Absynthe of Faith has really grown a lot on me since I first saw them live at Club Underground earlier this year. They keep getting better with every live show I have seen. Finally there is F.T.C. At the moment, Jesse has had to deal with stuff going on in his personal life so F.T.C is temporarily on hold but from what I have heard, F.T.C's music is quite good. I definitely can hear a bit of FLA in F.T.C's music. Can't wait to see F.T.C live again.

As far as big named concerts I have attended this year, I have to say my favorites are (in this particular order): Ego Likeness, Garbage, Cyndi Lauper, Sarah Brightman, The Foreign Resort with The Bellwether Syndicate (I even had the privilege to interview The Foreign Resort for my blog before the concert), and Project Pitchfork with Ayria. I dug The Azoic's set when they came to town as opening act for Combichrist but I didn't enjoy Combichrist's set so much no thanks to the rowdiness of the younger fans. That bump on my head I got from a fan's elbow was so NOT my favorite highlight of 2013, nor was being nearly knocked down to the floor (reminded me of the time when I got slammed into some poor woman by some drunk ass morons at the Faith and the Muse show in 2009).

2013 is the year I started get back into heavy metal music. Well some of it anyways. I already went through MergingMoon on a few occasions here so I won't bore ya with them again ;). Really digging the live concert CD/DVD of Showtime,Storytime by Nightwish. Floor Jansen is just what the band really needed in the post-Tarja era. Anette just didn't do anything for me but I love what Floor Jansen brings to the table as the band's new singer. I am also loving the new Tristania album Darkest Whites. Never thought I would like that band but I do now. I started listening to them after hearing "Year of the Rat" on the Absolute Grrrls Manifesto compilation. I know this band is pretty cheesy in their heyday but I love Vixen. Started listening to them again after hearing the awful news that the band's founder Jan Kuehnemund passed away, for the first time in about 20 years. Loved their first two albums as a teenager, and now as an adult, I find that I still love them to this very day.

While 2013 was not totally perfect, it certainly proved to be an interesting and compelling year for music for this music junkie. I am looking forward to what 2014 will bring both albums-wise and concerts-wise. I have posted links to some of the bands I have mentioned here on my blog. Please do check them out.

http://www.reverbnation.com/Absyntheoffaith
http://2bullet.net/site/index.php/en/
http://promidal.bandcamp.com/
https://myspace.com/psyberdoll
https://www.facebook.com/mergingmoon
https://www.facebook.com/noblesseobligeofficial
https://www.facebook.com/ftc.antihuman

Monday, December 30, 2013

My top 10 favorite music videos from 2013

10. "Lies" by Inertia


09. "The Fountain of Clouds" by Kirlian Camera


08. "Eye in the Sky" by Parralox


07. "Life is Unfair (And Love is a Bitch)" by Junksista


06. "Foreplay" by Promidal


05. "We Three Kings" By The Mediaeval Baebes


04. "You Walk Away" by Blutengel


03. "This Means War (feat. Joanna Stevens)" by Sleepthief


02. "Paradise (What About Us?)" by Within Temptation (feat.Tarja Turunen)


01. "Hotel California" by Noblesse Oblige

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best of 2013: Arc of a Dream by Otto's Daughter

Otto's Daughter: Arc of a Dream




This is a latecomer to my long list of best of 2013 candidates. I have been an admirer of Otto's Daughter since MySpace back in the mid 2000's. Their music is blend of pop, metal, electronic, and disco music fronted by Jacqueline van Bierk. When I saw that they had a new album up for pre-order a couple of weeks ago, I decided now was the time to show my support and buy it. I am really glad that I did. The album is melodic yet aggressive. As I am listening to Arc of a Dream for heaven knows how many times I have listened to it, I can hear a bit of Shirley Manson in her voice minus the Scottish accent. You can listen to some of the new album on the band's reverbnation page, also you can download it via CDBABY link that I posted at the top of the page. If you dig the sounds of Kidneythieves, I think you would dig Otto's Daughter.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Albums I am currently listening

It has been awhile since I posted the music I have been listening to lately. Let me tell you, I am listening to a lot of good stuff. Recently got some free music from a friend so a few of those albums are included on this list. My latest purchases are the Android Lust and Otto's Daughter cds. I am really digging the new Otto's Daughter album immensely.

Endless Blue - Smoke Through It

OMD - English 

Android Lust - The Human Animal

Combichrist - Everybody Hates You

Voltaire - To The Bottom of the Sea

Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe

Otto's Daughter - Arc of a Dream

Bella Morte - The Best of Bella Morte 1996-2012

Hollowstone - Rite of Existence

Ego Likeness - Treacherous Thing


Thursday, December 26, 2013

My 10 favorite bands that I discovered in 2013

Title of tonight's blog is pretty self-explainatory. Found some kickass bands this year. Here are my top ten faves :).

10. Nitronoise


09. 2 Bullet


08. Mr.Kitty


07. CHVRCHES


06. Architect


05. Promidal


04. Junksista


03. Baal


02. MergingMoon


And my #1 favorite band that I discovered this year goes to...

01. Noblesse Oblige

Yeah, like that should come as a big surprise for some of my readers and friends. lol

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Best of 2013: Voyager by Sensuous Enemy

Voyager by Sensuous Enemy


Voyager is one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2013. Anyone who knows me personally knows how much I adore Sensuous Enemy. I have been a fan of the band since my Myspace days (under countless pseudonyms like Rubber Ducky and Hello Kitty...lol). Anyhoo...I was really excited when the band signed to Nilaihah Records earlier this year. Talk about a perfect fit for the label and band. If there was any band I thought whose music deserved to have a bigger (or better)distribution deal (in our scene), it is Sensuous Enemy.

After a lengthy wait (which is putting it mildly), the band recently released their second full-length album Voyager last month. I remember hearing a couple of songs from the album over the summer when the band made a rare trip to Minneapolis to perform at Ground Zero. I immediately gravitated to the song "Freedom From Religion" because: a) love the hooks and beats and b) the lyrics totally reflect how I feel about organized religion (which my disdain for is mostly based on its batshit crazy/fanatical followers). I love that one of my personal favorite SE songs "Intentions" was included on the new album but it is a different mix. The sound isn't too different from what I am used to from the band's Parity EP (which I totally recommend taking a listen to). Right from the get go, Voyager had my undivided attention with "Blue Energy" and kept me to the last track "Powering Down". The wait for this album was definitely well worth it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My top 10 best/worst songs of 2013

Just because I am holding off on my best of 2013 albums list until January doesn't mean I can't do my my favorite/worst songs of 2013 now ;). I'll start with the good stuff. lol

My favorite songs of 2013
01. Runaway by Noblesse Oblige
02. Life is Unfair (and Love is a Bitch)by Junksista
03. Annabel by Goldfrapp
04. For My Lorraine by Blume
05. You Walk Away by Blutengel
06. Antibody by Aesthetic Perfection
07. The Mother We Share by CHVRCHES
08. Paradise (What About Us?) by Within Temptation featuring Tarja Turunen
09. Sirens of the Sea by Sensuous Enemy
10. Epiphany by Solitary Experiments

 Here are what I consider THE 10 worst songs of 2013 ;):

10. Lorde: Royals


09. Daft Punk: Get Lucky


08. One Republic: Counting Stars


07. Kanye West: Bound 2


06. Brad Paisley and LL Cool J: Accidental Racist


05. Britney Spears: Work Bitch


04. Miley Cyrus: We Can't Stop


03. Robin Thicke with T.I: Blurred Lines


02. Maroon 5: Love Somebody


01. Pitbull featuring Ke$ha: Timber


Yeah, the worst list was pretty easy to create. Come on. Making fun of today's shitty pop music is like shooting fish in a barrel. If anything this list is proof that mainstream music keeps getting worse and worse by the year.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Best of 2013: Kamikakushi by Merging Moon

Kamikakushi by MergingMoon

In case you have been living in a cave or under a rock, one of my favorite new discoveries in 2013 is the Japanese heavy metal band MergingMoon. I found out about them via Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown in season 2.




My jaw practically hit the floor when I heard clips of their music on tv. After the show, I went on youtube and listened to a few of their songs. I absolutely loved what I had heard. I thought it was totally kick ass to see such a tiny woman have such a ferocious voice. So it goes without saying, I found a copy of the band's latest album Kamikakushi and ordered it. I was not disappointed. The band's music isn't straight forward heavy metal. The band combines heavy metal with electronic music. I also like that the band's native roots also shines through in their music like on "When A Phantom Becomes a Fact". For an album that was self-released, the production value on the album is immaculate (to me at least). The vocals are not muddled down with poor production which can be a problem in the metal genre but this is not the case here. I love the aggressive sounds of the music yet it is melodic. For me, Kamikakushi is my favorite heavy metal album of 2013. It is so much fun to listen to either at work or when I am cleaning my apartment. Why this band doesn't have a record deal is beyond me.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Best of 2013: Phenomena by Solitary Experiments

Phenomena by Solitary Experiments


Phenomena is easily my favorite futurepop album of 2013. And to be honest, the new Solitary Experiments album really outshone VNV Nation's Transnational. The music on Phenomena simply stood out more for me than with the new VNV Nation album. I thought the melodies, beats, and overall production were ten times better than what I heard on Transnational. Phenomena gets off on a strong note with the instrumental "Tilting at Windmills". The party really gets started with the thunderous beats of "No Salvation" and the energy of the album does not let up until the very end. All of the songs on Phenomena have solid pop hooks, there are a few that really stood out with me such as "No Salvation", "Trial and Error", "Epiphany", and "Stars". There were a couple of tracks on the album I am not too particularly fond of but overall still worthy of being considered one of the best releases of 2013.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Best of 2013: Life by Mr.Kitty

Life by Mr.Kitty
Over the summer I was introduced to Mr.Kitty via Twitter from the indie label Engraved Ritual, namely the song "Heaven". I was immediately hooked on the catchy synthpop tune. My jaw practically  hit the floor when I first heard the song. After hearing a few more songs off Life, I knew I had to order an actual copy of the album from Engraved Ritual. As I suspected, Life is one of those rare gems in the music world that will quickly remind a music blogger like myself why he or she does what s/he does as a career/hobby.  I am new to Mr.Kitty's music so I don't have anything to compare the latest offering to his past work. What I have heard on Life is a good blend of post-punk, goth, and synthpop music. I definitely can hear the Depeche Mode influence like on "Holy Death", one of my personal favorite tracks on the album. I like how Forrest has one foot entrenched in the '80s and one foot in the present. The songs have a distinct retro new wave quality to them but without sounding outdated. Mr.Kitty is easily one of my new favorite discoveries of 2013 and his album Life one of the best albums released  this year. I am very pleased to see quite a few artists in the scene mention Life on their best of 2013 lists.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Best of 2013: Showtime, Storytime by Nightwish

Nightwish: Showtime, Storytime





Live concert albums/DVDs usually don't appeal to me but I made the exception with the new Nightwish concert/DVD Showtime, Storytime because this was the only way I was able to see/hear the band's new singer Floor Jansen since the band didn't come to Minneapolis in 2012 on their American tour. After seeing the live clip of "Ghost Love Story" from last year in Buenos Aires, I knew the band made a really great choice of making Floor their full time singer. Then when I saw the clip of "Storytime" from the concert footage, hearing Floor made me super excited for Showtime, Storytime. Since getting the album earlier this month, I have been listening to the CDs from the box set constantly. Floor has clearly demonstrated she is more than capable as full time singer for Nightwish. I loved that the band pulled out "She is My Sin" out of the vaults and performed it at Wacken. I thought Floor totally nailed that song. I have to admit she almost made me forget about Tarja. While there are no new material featured on the live CDs, I still find myself enjoying hearing the music immensely especially hearing Floor sing.

On the DVD/Blu-Ray, the first disc is all concert footage with bonus footage of "I Want My Tears Back " from Helsinki and "Ghost Love Story" from Buenos Aires. On the second disc, there is a documentary of the band during their 2012 Imaginaerum tour. Due to personal/professional differences, the band's former lead singer requested to not be featured in the documentary. I thought that was really interesting and not having her featured in the film made it feel a bit empty to this viewer but I respect her wishes as did the band. There is also bonus footage on the second disc of a table hockey tournament and Christmas Song for a Lonely Documentarist.  Inside the box set is a gorgeous booklet of photos featuring the band members.

As disappointed as I am that I never got the opportunity to see Floor and Nightwish perform in 2012, Showtime, Storytime really made up for that loss. Easily one of my favorite releases of 2013.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My favorite concerts of 2013

With 2014 just right around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to review a lot of my favorite concerts. You can find a lot of pics on my instagram account.

I:Scintilla with Goodnight Criminals, GoFight, and Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Once again my friend Renee got the Chicago rock band I:Scintilla to come up north to perform for her birthday. Fun show. The band brought along Goodnight Criminals and GoFight. Local band Gabriel and the Apocalypse opened the show. Always good to see I:Scintilla live. They are sound so much better live.

Leaether Strip

I have to admit what made this show a lot of fun was seeing my friend Tracey's band Promidal open up the show. It was a very visual show to say the very least. Still Leaether Strip did put on one heck of a live performance.

Combichrist Old School set with The Azoic and F.T.C
For some odd reason, I thought I had uploaded my Combichrist pics into Photobucket. Guess I didn't. Oh well. You should be able to view it from Facebook. I have set it to public setting. My highlight for that night wasn't necessarily Combichrist no thanks to the rowdiness of the crowd. Didn't have fun during their set, it was seeing The Azoic perform live for the first time in Minneapolis.


Cyndi Lauper at Mill City Nights
Absolutely freaking one of my favorite concerts of 2013. Cyndi was highly entertaining to watch.

Project Pitchfork with Ayria and As\Of




Second time I have seen Project Pitchfork with Ayria. Great show but I'll confess. I am more of an Ayria fan. Still seeing PP live again was great.

Hellions of Hollywood tour
goth_maven's Hellions of Hollywood Minneapolis show album on Photobucket


Fun, energetic show. Great seeing two bands that I have never seen before live that night. Loved watching the mosh pit from afar during Psyclon 9's set.

Garbage with Io Echo at Mill City Nights - Finally got to see Garbage after their seven year hiatus again. Truly one of my top favorite concerts of 2013. Really worth the money I shelled out for it.

The Bellwether Syndicate with The Foreign Resort and UZZA
goth_maven's TBS with The Foreign Resort and UZZA album on Photobucket







This was definitely one of my personal favorite shows of this year. I even got to interview The Foreign Resort.

Ego Likeness with Servitor, Gabriel and the Apocalypse, and Ficshe
goth_maven's Ego Likeness with Servitor album on Photobucket





The Ego Likeness show was by far my favorite show of this year because they are one of my favorite bands in the past few years.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Best of 2013: Affair of the Heart by Noblesse Oblige

Affair of the Heart by Noblesse Oblige



For anyone who knows me well enough or reads this blog on a regular basis knows damn well how much I love Affair of the Heart by Noblesse Oblige, a German/Parisian duo. I am trying to remember correctly if it was the video for "Runaway" or the Absolute Grrrls Manifesto compilation that introduced me to the group. Either way, both made me a big fan/supporter. I do know that IAMX's Chris Corner directed the video for "Runaway" which really made the band stand out with me this year. I quickly became addicted to its catchy pop hooks (and still hooked on the song to this very day). I can easily say that "Runaway" is one of my top 5 favorite songs of 2013. The song is like an earworm but in a positive way. In fact, it is my go to song when I get shitty earworms stuck in my head and need to remove them. LOL!

As for the album itself, I really dug the sensual sounds of Affair of the Heart. I definitely like it a lot more than In Exile (the only album of the group's I have at the moment) which was all over the place. In Exile is a good album but the sound was so all over the place while Affair of the Heart has a more cohesive, electro-poppish sound. I really liked the direction the group took with this album. I also dug the risks they took with the eight minute long version of The Eagles' "Hotel California". Not really a fan of the original but I really love this interpretation of the classic Eagles track. It's very trip-hoppish. I like how Valerie Renay goes from spoken word to singing through out the song. I also love the Middle Eastern influences on "Mata Hari".  I find the song very hypnotic to listen to between the music and Valerie's vocals.

I listened to a lot of electro/synth pop music this year. Some good, some bland, and some just not so good. Affair of the Heart is one of the few that really stood out with me. I really like that the album isn't completely all dance music which can be a bit repetitive and the beats slows down for the second half. I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from this talented duo. I wouldn't have been pushing them so much via Twitter/FB if I didn't believe that their music needs a larger audience.  Noblesse Oblige is easily one of my favorite finds of 2013 without a shadow of a doubt.

Monday, December 16, 2013

My top 10 current favorite songs of the week

My top 10 current favorite songs of the week
01. "Love Me or Leave Me" - Kerli
02. "The Mother We Share" - Chvrches
03. "Adera Sempre" - Miranda Sex Garden
04. "Dead Tomorrow" - Bruderschaft
05. "Never and Me" - Kidneythieves
06. "Blue Sky Night" - Glis
07. "Paradise" - Mikro
08. "Change the View" - Solar Fake
09. "Star of the Sea" - Mediaeval Baebes
10. "Escape Artist" - Zynic

Right now I am particularly fond of the tracks by Kerli, Chvrches, Glis, and Mikro. I especially love the Mikro track. Totally catchy as hell, certainly more poppy than most music that I listen to.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Best of 2013: Darkest White by Tristania

Darkest White by Tristania

I have to admit I never really paid much attention to the band Tristania. For a long time I had fallen out of love with the gothic metal scene until 2011. Earlier this year, I found the new Tristania album on youtube. I listened to a few tracks from the album and found myself enjoying Darkest White quite a bit and it goes without saying that I ended up buying a copy of the album from my favorite record store. Darkest White is easily one of my favorite heavy metal albums of 2013. While a lot of internet trolls bitch about Mariangela Demurtas's vocals (namely on youtube) and her not being anything like their previous singer, I really enjoy Mariangela's vocals. In fact her vocals is why I love the album so much. In the past I used to not like the cookie monster on acid type of vocals however I have grown accustomed to them thanks to Kjetil Nordhus. I was pleasantly surprised how connected I felt with the lyrics as well as vocals. I particularly loved listening to Kjetil's vocals on "Diagnosis". Very clean and powerful. My personal favorite track is without a shadow of a doubt "Requiem". The song has so much emotions and the way Mariangela sings on that song made the song the stand out track with me. I definitely can listen to Darkest White from start to finish without skipping a single track. Truly a real solid, winner for me.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Jam of the Week: The Mediaeval Baebes - We Three Kings

With Christmas just right around the corner, I have been getting in the holiday spirit with The Mediaeval Baebes' interpretation of "We Three Kings" from their Christmas album Of Kings and Angels (which of course I ordered ;)).

I really love how the women harmonize on this timeless classic. I am eagerly anticipating on hearing the entire album. I really have forgotten how good this vocal group is. I have been a fan for a decade now. I discovered them at Cheapo Records when I came upon their album Undrentide and the cover art intrigued me, and the rest is history. FYI...for those in the underground scene and are familiar with Miranda Sex Garden, Katherine Blake used to be in MSG. I started listening to MSG when I did some online research on Mediaeval Baebes and Katherine Blake.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Best of 2013: The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches

The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches

I admit I just jumped on the Chvrches bandwagon recently. I have been listening to the album online since Monday, and today finally bought my own copy of The Bones of What You Believe. I totally understand the hype over the album by music critics and fans alike. The Bones of What You Believe is a super catchy synth driven album. The more I listen to the album the more I am reminded a little of the latest Tegan and Sara album Heartthrob but with more synths, a little of the Greek duo Marsheaux, and a dash of Ladytron. I have been listening to this album quite a bit today which says a lot about how much I enjoy the music. Although December is halfway over, I am so glad I got to check out this gem of a Scottish band. The Bones of What You Believe is truly one of those rare gems in which the music does live up to the hype by music critics and fans.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Best of 2013: Tales of Us by Goldfrapp

Tales of Us By Goldfrapp

Tales of Us is the album that I have been longing for from the electronica act Goldfrapp since their debut album Felt Mountain. While I do like most of their albums that proceeded Felt Mountain, I always missed that intimate sound that their first album had which was lacking in its predecessors except for 7th Tree. The band's more dance orientated albums are pretty good and I do like a good number of their dance songs like "Strict Machine" and "Ooh Lah Lah" but a lot of felt felt contrived to me. When I first heard Tales of Us on Spotify, I was in heaven. For the first few weeks after I bought the album, I listened to it every freaking day. I was hooked with its seductive charms courtesy of Alison Goldfrapp with her breathy vocals and Will's subtle production style. This is probably the closest I will ever get to hearing another Felt Mountain but that is okay. I really like that the duo incorporated acoustic guitars into their music. I love how sparse and intimate the album is and that Alison's vocals isn't overwhelmed by thunderous dance beats except maybe on the track "Thea". For people who got into Goldfrapp with their post-Felt Mountain albums, they will probably be disappointed in the laid back sounds of Tales of Us but for those who fell in love with them on Felt Mountain, this album is definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Best of 2013: When Evil Speaks by Suicide Commanod

Suicide Commando: When Evil Speaks

2012 wasn't such a hot year for industrial music for me. There were only three albums that I liked. Thankfully 2013 made up for that with the new albums by Front Line Assembly, Ayria, Helalyn Flowers, Amduscia, and Suicide Commando. I am particularly fond of the new Suicide Commando album When Evil Speaks. I just enjoy the distorted, gutteral vocals from Johan Van Roy as well as the nihilistic and visceral lyrics. My favorite track is the title track.

I can feel the aggression in the music. The thunderous beats makes me want to headbang whenever I listen to the song at work. The Sin DNA remix is even better. I like the general overall sound of this remix slightly more so over the original version.

But either way, LOVE the title track. Another favorite track off the album is "Repent or Perish". It seems like he took a more minimalist approach on this track.

While the pace of this album is a bit slower than on previous albums, the music is still as aggressive as ever. Of all the (just a few) albums I have heard from Suicide Commando, I relate most to When Evil Speaks lyrically. It has become the soundtrack to my life or at least on days when I am in the worst of moods. When I am in a bad mood, I just throw on this album into my portable stereo and crank up the volume. Easily my favorite industrial album of 2013.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Some food for thought: hating on the local music scene

Today on my afternoon break at work, I read on City Pages online about how Rock the Garden 2014 will be spread out into a two day event. Maybe this will allow non-members of The Current/MPR to gain access to the local event but that isn't what really got my undivided attention. what got my undivided attention is the hate that was being spewed towards the event. Here is some of the classic "gems" I found in the comment section:

"Fuck Rock the Garden"

"I already hate Loring Park in the summer. This adds to it."

"So even less cohesion? Yeah that's what this event needs."

"Tiresome hipsters."

"Fuck 'em. Pigs."

Pretty harsh. What the hell did RTG do to deserve the ire of a bunch of bored ass internet trolls? More importantly what have those people have done for the local music scene? $5 says absolutely nothing!

Okay I admit there is aspects of my local music scene that I am not particularly crazy about (like the fact that Minneapolis is primarily an indie-rock town and hipster paradise). Yes, I do often make fun of hipsters, yes I dislike a good part of the local music scene especially when they troll my FB and Twitter pages thinking I would do shit for them when I strictly focus on music that interests me like goth, industrial, synthpop, and occasionally metal, alternative rock, EDM, and whatever else floats my boat). But unlike the whiny little wankers on City Pages/Facebook who just sits behind their computer and bitch and moan away about the music scene, I actually go out of my way to find shows that might be of interest to attend or write about music that I enjoy listening to in hopes that people will feel the same way when they read my blog.

For me personally, it took me a few years after moving back to Minneapolis from Milwaukee, WI (over a decade ago) to realize that the Twin Cities is capable of having some good local bands. What got me to think differently at the local music scene was when I went to see The Cruxshadows with Ayria and I:Scintilla. Local band Bella Koshka opened up for the show that night. I was really impressed with what I had heard. When I joined Myspace, I started following local singer/songwriter Jenny Dalton and started going to her shows in town (I really need to go see her again one of these days). Eventually I started attending shows featuring local artists/bands on a regular basis (as well as big named concerts). Shortly after joining the Kilted Farmer Koncerts street team, I created this blog. Originally I created this blog as a vanity project but as time as gone on, my blog The Twin Cities Underground has become something much more than a vanity project. Since I am not a musician, dj, or promoter, my blog has become a voice for a grossly overlooked scene in the Twin Cities music scene. I am now a permanent fixture in Minneapolis's tiny yet tight electropunk (i.e goth scene). Kinda hard to miss the short Asian chick in the black leather jacket, jeans, doc martens, and one of her favorite band t-shirts ;).

I will ask this question again...what has those who continually hate on the local scene done for the Twin Cities music scene? If those people on City Pages hates the scene so much? Why aren't they doing something to change their attitudes by contributing to the  music scene? Unfortunately I suspect these people just get off on their own negativity. Judging from their comments I have read, it seems that spewing hate for a scene they aren't a part of is their equivalent to having sex or masturbating. All I can say is to put a sock in it, your shit is old. If you don't like the music scene but yet you aren't doing anything about it to change it, then STFU.

The Twin Cities may not have a perfect music scene but I do think it has a healthy, vibrant music scene. I have discovered some really great local acts in the last few years that has really made me proud to be a part of the music scene. I rather have what there is than not have a music scene at all.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Best of 2013: Inhale by Marsheaux

Inhale by Marsheaux

I am a relatively new fan to Marsheaux's music. Last year I finally got around to buying Lumineux Noir and it automatically made me a life long fan of the group's music. So it goes without saying that I was excited when the two women put out a new album earlier this year called Inhale. I would describe their music as being minimalist '80s synthpop. Their music reminds me of all the '80s greats like Book of Love, Yaz, OMD, (early)Depeche Mode,and Human League. Inhale (and like their other albums) may have a retro sound, the music never sounds dated or obsolete. On their previous album, I felt like I was listening to Ladytron here nd there. The songs are incredibly catchy. The vocals do tend to be a bit monotonous here and there but overall I did Marianthi and Sophie's vocals. The women's vocals do complement each other.I don't know if I really needed an extended version of "Can You Stop Me" but overall Inhale is a solid electro-pop album worthy of being mentioned as one of the best albums of 2013.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Best of 2013: White Me In/Black Me Out by Helalyn Flowers

White Me In/Black Me Out by Helalyn Flowers

Helalyn Flowers is one of my favorite bands from my Myspace days which was years ago. I always loved their fusion of industrial music with heavy metal. My only problem with their music is that their albums was always uneven. They had good songs but there was also a lot of filler tracks.  That is up until their latest full length album White Me In/Black Me Out which was released earlier this spring. I ordered a copy directly from the band's website. I opted for the 2 CD version which Naomi and Max personally autographed. It did not take very long for this album to become one of my favorite albums released this year. Every song on the album had strong pop hooks unlike some of their previous albums. This album is what I have been dying to hear from Helalyn Flowers to make which is an album where I can listen to the album from start to finish without skipping a single track. If you check out the two disc version, you can hear some really kick ass covers that HF does like 2 Unlimited's "No Limits" and The Ramones' "Pet Sematary". They have a lot of energy and just a lot of fun to listen to. I also dig their cover of PJ Harvey's "Rid of Me" (found on the first disc). And the remixes were pretty good although it did get to be quite a chore to hear the same song  again and again just  remixed differently but as everyone knows me, remixes are a hit or miss with me. Overall I got my money's worth and the album truly is one of the best releases of 2013.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Jam of the Week: Hurts - Somebody to Die For



So for this week's Jam of the Week, I have chosen Hurts' Somebody to Die For. I have been listening to the song constantly at home as well as at work. It is easily my favorite song off their Exile album. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Best of 2013: Goliath by Butcher Babies

Goliath by Butcher Babies

I will be brutally frank here...I really don't listen to a lot of heavy metal music because personally I am more into industrial and synthpop music (as if my readers and those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter haven't figured that out). Much to my surprise this year, I found a few heavy metal albums that grabbed my attention and have been getting lots of airplay in my portable stereo. One of those albums is the debut album Goliath by the Los Angeles band Butcher Babies. From what I have read online, The Plasmatics' "Butcher Baby" was the inspiration behind the band's name. What got my attention was that the band had two female lead singers which you really don't see in the underground music scene, especially in the metal scene. I ended up borrowing a copy of Goliath from the library earlier this summer/fall and quickly fell in love with the band's music. The music is aggressive and brutalin the vein of Lamb Of God and Hatebreed. I really love the dual vocals of Carla Coates and Heidi Shepherd, and how one is singing and the other is screaming. It is like yin and yang. I have a ton of fun listening to the album as loud as possible especially at work. I find myself headbanging to Goliath at work with my earphones on. LOL! I especially love the brutality of the title track. I love the in your face vocals by the women. This album is also good to listen to while cleaning house ;).

Here is the latest music video by the band.

If you are really fortunate enough (unlike me), the band is going on tour next year with In This Moment. Here are the tour dates.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The 8 albums of 2013 that did not impress me

I thought I would take a break from my best of series tonight with my list of albums from this year that just failed to impress me. I probably am going to break one of my own ten commandments of being a music fan but you know, this is the end of the year. I'm going to be honest with the music I have heard this year, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I honestly wanted to like these albums but with every listen, the less I liked what I had heard. So break out the pitchforks and torches because here are the 8 albums from this year that I did not particularly care for! LOL!

8. Covenant: Leaving Babylon

There was a point when I was seriously looking forward to buying this album but then I streamed it on Spotify. Is it me or does this band keep regurgitating the same songs? This had to be even more dull than their previous album Modern Ruin.

07. Funker Vogt: Companion in Crime

See #8. There were a couple of tracks that I did like on the album but my goodness, listening to Companion in Crime quickly became a chore for me.

06. Skinny Puppy: Weapon

I for one am looking forward to seeing Skinny Puppy live in February. Totally dig their older material. Just couldn't get into their latest album Weapon. Maybe once I see them live I can appreciate the album.

05. Lady Gaga: Artpop

I listened to the new Lady G album on Spotify a few weeks ago out of sheer curiosity. It was not good. It lacked the infectious pop hooks that made me appreciate her first two albums (before my patience ran out with her schtick). Artpop is proof that I am SOOOOO over Lady Gaga. Gimme Grace Jones, Madonna, Bette Midler and every other artist she has nicked her gimmicky image off from over her.

04. Hanzel und Gretyl: Fur Immer

I love HuG but they really have been trying my patience in the past year. Last year's long awaited album Born to Be Heiled ended up being one of my biggest disappointments in which their music sounded like half-baked Kid Rock songs. SMH. Now this year they decided to put out a remix album. I'm sorry but I really dislike remix albums. At this rate, I might as well throw in the towel with them. Not to say that there weren't any good remixes (just a couple) however the bad outnumbered the good. Sad.

03. Combichrist: No Redemption

I actually started liking this album in the beginning but within a half hour into it, my ears got tired and needed some diversity. I do commend Combichrist for going in a different direction with their music.

02. Sirenia: Perils of the Deep Blue

I really enjoyed the band's previous effort but this album was just a massive let down for me. All the songs sounded the same to me.

01. Tarja: Colours in the Dark

I love Tarja's voice but her solo music is something to be left desired. Of her three solo albums, Colours of the Dark is the most tolerable of the bunch. The problem with her music for me is that Tarja isn't working with someone who has an ear for melodies like her former Nightwish bandmate Tuomas. I will say this I do love the Within Temptation song she sings on. Maybe she should join that band and share vocals with Sharon. lol

Edit:
I was just thinking today (12/8) about The Civil Wars' self-titled album. I almost forgot how disappointed I was in the long awaited follow up to their first album Barton Hollow. The music on their self-titled album was lackluster at best. The worst part of this story is that the two band members aren't on good speaking terms so this may (or may not) be the last album by the group. It would be a shame to end one's career with an album totally devoid of personality.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Best of 2013: Autumn Ruins by Blume

Autumn Ruins by Blume


You know the old adage "good things comes to those who wait"? Well that is how I felt when Italian synthpop act Blume finally released their second album Autumn Ruins earlier this fall after a lengthy 3 years. After listening to Rise From Gray a gazillion times, Autumn Ruins was a definite breath of fresh air. Not that Rise From Gray is bad (love that album), but one can only listen to one particular album without getting sick of it without hearing new material. Thankfully the long wait was really worth it. Autumn Ruins picks up where Rise From Gray left off. Autumn Ruins ranks as one of the best synthpop releases of 2013 in my book. The music is irresistable from start to finish. Enrico Filisetti's vocals is so warm and comforting. Listening to him sing on the album is like putting on my favorite hoodie/flannel pajamas. He has such a deep, rich voice, I get the warm fuzzies whenever I listen to him croon. I am often reminded of Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan but with a slightly deeper voice. Enrico could sing the phone book and I would still find listening to him enjoyable. LOL! I really enjoyed the fact that the band picked up the pace on the album with more beat heavy tracks like "The Chosen" and the excellent instrumental "Arclight". My personal favorite track on the entire album is the gorgeous acoustic ballad "For My Lorraine". It is obvious to me how deeply personal this song whenever I listen to the song. The lyrics often brings tears to my eyes. That said, the entire album is excellent.

I really wish more people were familiar with Blume. The band really knows how to create a memorable pop hook. Their latest album is definitely one of my personal highlights of 2013. Definitely check out Autumn Ruins if you enjoy the sounds of Covenant, De/Vision, and Depeche Mode.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Best of 2013: Death of a Sun by Syrian

Syrian: Death of a Sun


2013 has been a very good year for this synthpop lover. One of my favorite synthpop releases this year is Death of a Sun by the Italian synthpop band Syrian. The album has everything I look for in a synthpop album; catchy melodies and crisp, dance-friendly dance beats. The music on Death of a Sun is a good balance of modern and retro synthpop without sounding dated or hokey. "In the End" is a perfect example of how the band straddles the fine line between modern and retro synthpop. I loved all the songs from track 1 to track 10. I am particularly fond of the ballad "Walk Into the Sun" and "Nuvole", two of the prettiest tracks on the album. My only issue with the album is that it is too short and is filled with four remixes of "Fire In Your Eyes" and a bonus track called "Midnight Run" to complete the album. Frankly the four remixes should have been cut. They weren't bad but they weren't necessary. I just find it disappointing when artists feel the need to add remixes to their albums because their album ends up being a half hour long however that is just my personal opinion. Regardless of the remixes, Death of a Sun is truly a memorable synthpop album from 2013. I think it is one of the group's best albums ever.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Best of 2013: Animal by Berlin

Berlin: Animal

For tonight's blog entry and in my ongoing series up until January when I will post my list of best of 2013 list, I decided to focus on Berlin's new album Animal. It was back in October when I discovered that the band had a new album out while I was perusing the CD racks at The Electric Fetus. Being a huge Berlin fan, I decided to buy the album.

Much to my surprise , Animal sounds nothing like the band's work from the '80s. From what I have read online, Terri Nunn has been listening to a lot of modern dance music lately and it shows throughout Animal. I think she has also been listening to a lot of Lady Gaga because the opening riff "It's Nice to Meet You" shares that same vibe in the opening melodies to "Poker Face". Initially I was a bit thrown off by the band's venture into modern dance music but after some time the music grew on me. I really like the more uptempo tracks like "Animal" and "With the Lights On".  Of all the ballads, "It's the Way" is my personal favorite. I thought it had the strongest, most memorable pop hooks and lyrics. Another favorite track of mine is their cover of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love". Berlin gives the classic rock song a modern dance treatment.

Terri Nunn sounds even better than ever on the new album IMHO. Rarely do singers from my youth still sounds amazing in the present moment but this is the case with Terri Nunn. Do I wish she kept some of her band's old sound? I admit I do. Animal isn't a flawless album. There are moments when I miss the new wave sound from the '80s. You can hear the album at the top of my blog with the Spotify link I had posted above the album cover.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Best of 2013: Absolute Grrrls Manifesto Chapter 1

Now that it is officially December, that means I am going to once again start posting (as much as possible) my favorite albums of 2013 throughout the month of December. To make it interesting and unpredictable, some of the albums I am writing about may end up on my final top 10-20 best of list, some may not. Let me tell you that will not be an easy feat since I have heard a ton of excellent music this year.

Tonight I am beginning with the excellent 4 Disc compilation Absolute Grrrls Manifesto Chapter 1 from Alfa Matrix. This is a 4 CD compilation featuring female-fronted bands or bands with tracks featuring female singers like the tracks "Deep Waters" by Grendel, "Voyage" by Patenbrigade Wolff feat. Antje Dieckmann and "High Heel Fixation" by Aesthetische. I am definitely considering Absolute Grrrls Manifesto as one of the best releases from this year. It really introduced me to some excellent bands like Noblesse Oblige (whom you know by now absolutely adore) and Junksista (a relatively new favorite of mine). While the compilation certainly left out some other notable acts (i.e Sensuous Enemy, Cylab, The Break Up, Future Perfect to name a few), it still provided this music junkie hours of entertaiment.

While the majority of the bands featured on the a compilation are part of the electro underground scene, the music does branch out into the metal genre. Most of the songs were a hit with me, few I just skip but those were few and far between. Here are a few of my favorite songs from the compilation:









If you want to discover new artists, check out Absolutely Grrrls Manifesto.