Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New (To Me, At Least) Music

This is kind of a waste of a post, but I have to do it to get back in the practice of writing on a regular basis.  I'm sorry.

Things are stalling.  The only important thing in my life right now is getting to Scotland, but I've done pretty much everything I have to do, aside from pack and say my goodbyes.  There's nothing left but to wait and try to enjoy my last month here.  Which is proving difficult.

I suppose I should say a little about what's going to happen to this blog while I'm overseas.  Basically, I'll be using this thing to document where I'm going and what I'm doing, not just for myself but any family and friends who might want to keep up with me.  I'll try to keep things from getting to travel blog-y and keep it more story-telling oriented.  There will be pictures, but not too many, because I'm lazy and will hopefully be putting what effort I have into poetry as opposed to meticulous blogging.  Have I talked about this already?  I feel like I have.  Anyway, that's what will be happening come September.

Since I don't have anything else to talk about, it's time for some music.  Again.
The Gaslight Anthem has been around a while, and I haven't always been the biggest fan, but their last album (American Slang) really impressed me, and their newest release Handwritten did not disappoint.  The sounds is a bit fuller than I've heard from them before, and each song has such a pretty melancholy to it.  Sure, it's all the same Waste Land rock we've gotten a million times from countless artists, but it's done so well here that you can't help but love it.  My favorite track off Handwritten is "Howl", though "Too Much Blood" is about writing, so I'm partial to it as well.

In the "missing the boat" category, Strung Out's last album came out in 2009 and I had no idea until about a week ago.  I followed them religiously in high school, but when I moved from the rock-friendly Cleveland area to a wealthy Chicago suburb for college, I found quite a different music scene.  I ended up drifting out of touch with punk rock completely, only have gotten back into it thanks to my post-breakdown discovery of Against Me's White Crosses.  I swear I will stop talking about that album someday, just not today.  Anyway, I was just clicking around Amazon to see if there was any good downloads on the cheap when I saw a Strung Out album I didn't own and figured it was worth a try.

Strung Out occupies some odd territory in that they gradually began incorporating more metal elements into their sound several albums back, and in the strict world of punk where cries of "sellout!" are as numerous and damning as "heretic!" during the Inquisition, deviance (in sound, at least) is frowned upon.  Even so, they're not hard enough to be full on metal, either, so that leaves you with this heavy, semi-melodic band without a home. But if you can handle listening to something without worrying about what it is, then these guys are usually pretty good.

I say usually because their 2007 album Blackhawks Over Los Angeles was something of a misfire, for while it had some good songs on it, it was overblown in both sound and production.  However, 2009's Agents of the Underground is one of their best ever.  It's the perfect mix between punk and metal, and I'm honestly glad I got it, if only to see how they improved since Blackhawks came out.  All the songs are likable, though some are more lyrically sounds than others.  Here are the first and last tracks off Agents of the Underground, "Black Crosses" and "Andy Warhol", the latter being my favorite on the album.

Coincidentally, Black Crosses is the name of the second disk that comes with the reissued version of White Crosses.  It never goes away.

I actually had a third band I was going to talk about, but I went on about Strung Out so much that I think this post is too long now.  Another time.

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