Whether you call him Beelzebub, Satan, the Prince of Darkness, Mephistopheles, or just the plain ole devil (it’s all about your preferred nomenclature, man) there is no denying the big guy downstairs has been a huge influence on Rock & Roll.
There have been a plethora of songs written about the dark lord (no I’m not talking about Voldemort, you posers) but the real question is — what are Satan’s favorite songs about himself?
So, like the top-notch investigative journalism team we are at the CityBeat music department, my editor Mike Breen and I bought some pig’s blood, drew a pentagram on the floor, lit some candles, recited some Latin and summoned the fallen angel himself.
After a long discussion on various human subjects — how Mitt Romney is in fact not the antichrist, but just an idiot; the state of Gene Simmons' soul and why he is going to hell (apparently, it’s not for his satanic look or the thousand acts of pre-marital sex, but for turning KISS into the biggest whore in the music industry) — Mephistopheles disappeared back into the hell mouth as quick as he came. (Who said real journalism was dead?)
Yet, left in his place was an evil list compiled by the demon of his Top 10 favorite songs about himself, with the instruction to print them without changes. (Satan’s actually a very polite guy but super narcissistic.) So, in honor of his wishes (and extra conscious of our agreement that riches will be bestowed on CityBeat if we completed the task), here are the Top 10 songs about Satan.
10. “Baptized in Flames” – Skeletonwitch
You ever wanted to know what Antichrist’s birth would be like? If so, you’re in luck because Athens, Ohio, natives Skeletonwitch give us a pretty vivid description of the scene.
Minus the death of the mother, inverted crosses burning, men dying and the overall end-times vibe, this birth isn’t all that different from a normal one. But let’s be honest, no matter who’s being popped out, the birthing process is pretty disgusting.
9. “Super-Charger Heaven” – White Zombie
If I had never seen an interview with Rob Zombie (he seems like a really nice guy), I would truly believe this guy had some serious demonic connections. From his grade-A horror films to his music riddle with witches, blood rituals and general spine-chilling terror, he is the poster child for all things evil.
Although his later solo work is a little campy at times, White Zombie always brought the hellish vibe to their brand of Groove Meta and they showcased it no better than on their 1995 single, “Super-Charger Heaven.”
8. “Beezleboss” – Tenacious D
Did you know it’s in the demon by-laws to never turn down a rock-off challenge? I didn’t either. Not until the cataclysmic disappointment, “Pick of Destiny,” came out in 2006 at least.
Even though this movie was shittier than the end of The
Human Centipede, Satan’s gut-busting drum solo (although impressive) wasn’t
enough to outmatch Tenacious D’s power of Rock and friendship, not only saving Kage’s
eternal soul (and anal virginity) but sending the devil back to hell and
finally finding a way to pay their damn rent. (Satan says he found it "cute" that the band would write a fictional song about defeating him and picked this song because he's angling for a part in Kung Fu Panda 4 with Jack Black.)
7. “Con Clavi Con Dio” – Ghost
Sweden probably isn’t the first nation you think of as a hotbed for satanic music (I know, ABBA was scary but definitely not satanic), but when Ghost’s Opus Eponymous came out in 2010, the band took another step towards making that a reality.
This whole album is just one big love letter to the prince of darkness and the first four lines of “Con Clavi Con Dio” says it all: “Lucifer/ We are here/ For your praise/Evil one.”
Overall, I don’t know what’s creepier — this band’s all-inclusive scare factor or their borderline stalker obsession with Satan. (Lucifer, if you’re reading this, you may want to consider a restraining order against these guys. I know they’re from Sweden, but I don’t think they are messing around.)
6. “Mean as Hell” – Johnny Cash
Besides making a star out of Honey Boo Boo and working as an investment banker on Wall Street, Satan says all he really ever wanted was a land to call his own. So God, like the sly dog he is, tried pull a fast one on his old nemesis, giving him the poorest land he had, the Rio Grande.
The Devil, being the mean son of bitch that he is, took God’s offering and riddled the area with scorpions, thorn trees, tarantulas, rattlesnakes and 110-degree weather, making the best hell on earth he could (take that God!).
In the end, Satan proved God wrong, but what’s more interesting is — who is meaner, Johnny Cash or Satan? Sure, Satan made the Rio Grande hell on earth, but Cash lived in it. My money’s on the “Man in Black.”
5. “Sympathy for the Devil” – The Rolling Stones
The devil has been a busy man over the years. He was “’Round when Jesus Christ/Had his moment of doubt and pain” and “Held a general's rank/When the Bliztkrieg raged/And the bodies stank.”
Even though I’m not that particularly puzzled by the nature of his game (am I the only one seeing the trend of death here?), it’s definitely one of the most iconic and politically-driven songs Satan ever inspired.
4. “The Oath” – Mercyful Fate
Kind Diamond is like the satanic equivalent of Pat Robertson. Sure, this guy isn’t actually a Satanist but over his illustrious career, his distaste for organized religion, overtly satanic lyrical content and general creepy demeanor has surely put him in good standing with the minions of hell’s army and their general.
I really could have picked almost any song from the King Diamond catalog, but this one — from the band he fronts, Mercyful Fate — really showcases his unconditional love for Lucifer. Really though, Diamond’s undying love for Satan is only comparable to the love Ryan Seacrest has for hair gel and being a douche. If the song weren’t so damn evil, it would almost bring me to tears.
3. “Hell Awaits” – Slayer
As if this song wasn’t scary enough running normally, apparently if you play “Hell Awaits” backwards, about two minutes in there is a hidden message that repeats "join us" over and over again. Joining what exactly, I’m not sure. Slayer fans? An indoor soccer league? The wait staff at the Olive Garden? Who knows?
What’s really funny, though, is that people freak out when they hear Slayer has a “satanic message” when you play it backwards. Really? If you listen to the song forward, the “satanic messages” are even more explicit. Jeez people, the whole thing is about Satan! It’s Slayer, what do you expect?
2. “N.I.B.” – Black Sabbath
Aside from “Sympathy for the Devil” this is the only other song on this list written from the perspective of Lucifer. Besides the monster riff and Black Sabbath general early awesomeness, what makes this track phenomenal is that it's about Satan falling in love and trying to become a good person.
Though knowing that information makes this song seem a little less evil and is slightly reminiscent of a Joss Whedon plotline (no dig there, it’s just true), it exemplifies why Black Sabbath will always be the best Metal band of all time — its creativity.
Personally, I wish Ben Gibbard would do one of his so cute (it makes me want to puke) acoustic covers of this song so I can play it at my wedding (like that’ll ever happen).
1. “Number of the Beast” – Iron Maiden
I’ve always been a bit confused when it comes to the actual logistics of this song. I mean, did he see this satanic ritual happening or not? My personal belief is that Steve Harris (lead guitar/writer) took one too many hits of LSD, watched The Omen II and had the most terrifying trip known to modern man.
Either way, “Number of the Beast" solidified Bruce Dickinson as Maiden's new lead singer (even though I’m more a Paul Di’anno fan myself) and made Maiden titans in the Metal genre.
Remember — I’m just the middleman here. If you have a problem with this list, I’m sure Satan would be willing to hear you out. (Here’s his contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: This morning I sent Blake's write-up to Satan for approval (we usually don't do that, but, hey, it's Satan), he responded with a curt, all caps message: "WHERE IS MY FAVORITE BAND HOGSCRAPER!!! I WILL BRING YOU DOWN HERE EARLY IF YOU DON'T ADD MY THEME SONG!!! THANKS!!! HAIL ME!!!" He's referring to the mysterious, undead Cincinnati "Satanic Bluegrass" band Hogscraper and I can only assume his "theme song" is the one below. When I texted him just before posting I informed him that Hogscraper was back from the dead and headlining this Saturday's "Grand Opening Redux" concert at the new Southgate House Revival. "NO SHIT. I'LL BE THERE WITH SCARY BELLS ON. PRE-GAMING @ HOOTERS BEFOREHAND IF YOU WANNA HANG OUT!"
This afternoon, the Facebook page of crucial, longtime MidPoint Music Festival supporters, Dewey's Pizza, announced the first handful of artists book to play this fall's MidPoint Music Festival. And, after early-bird discount tickets quickly sold out several weeks ago, the rest of the tickets are on sale now at mpmf.cincyticket.com.
The first batch of MPMF.13 performers is very representative of the bookings for MidPoint the past few years. You've got a Modern Rock legend, a few established acts, several current "buzz bands" and a few acts that, if past years' MPMFs are any indication, will be "buzz-worthy" by the time the festival rolls around, Sept. 26-28.
Here are the first 17 acts booked for MPMF.13, the 12th installment of the ever-growing music fest that utilizes various venues in Over-the-Rhine/Downtown. Below the list, you can check out a song by each artist on our first MPMF.13 playlist.
The Breeders (Dayton, Ohio)
One of the seminal bands of the "Alternative Revolution" in the ’90s, The Breeders are currently promoting the 20th anniversary, expanded reissue of their classic Last Splash album. Though the Dayton-based Deal sisters (Kelley of R. Ring and Kim of Pixies) have kept musically active since Last Splash, with outside projects and The Breeders, the world tour for the reissue is special because it reunites the Deals with the album's lineup — bassist Josephine Wiggs and veteran Dayton drummer Jim MacPherson, who also spent time with Guided By Voices. The Breeders are playing Last Splash in its entirety on the whole tour.
The Head and The Heart (Seattle, Wash.)
One of the top acts of the "Indie Folk" movement, The Head and the Heart formed in Seattle in 2009. An early, self-made recording the band sold at initial shows ended up becoming so popular, local record stores began stocking it and trying to keep up with the surprising demand. The recording began making the music industry rounds, leading to a bidding war for the band. They ended up signing to hometown label Sub Pop within about a year of forming. The group's self-titled album was released to critical acclaim in 2011. The band's warm, ear-grabbing sound has been used a lot on TV spots; you might recognize their "Lost in My Mind," which was the background music for the trailer for the big hit film, Silver Linings Playbook.
Warpaint (Los Angeles)
With an airy, mesmerizing take on Psych Pop, L.A. quartet Warpaint caught the attention of mad guitar genius John Frusciante, who offered to mix the band's Exquisite Corpse EP. That release and a successful CMJ festival appearance led to Warpaint's signing to the legendary Rough Trade imprint. The label released the album The Fool in October 2010 and the band went back to their relentless touring schedule, which included dates with the likes of The xx, Yeasayer and The Walkmen. The band is currently prepping a new LP.
Foxygen (New York, NY/Olympia, Wash.)
Foxygen is the engagingly adventurous duo of Sam France and Jonathan Rado, who formed the group as 15-year-olds in 2005 and self-released a dozen or so albums while learning to play as many instruments as possible. The band's skewered Art Pop (akin to that of MGMT) with retro-underpinnings has been drawing attention since the release of the Foxygen full-length debut for the respected Jagjaguwar Records, the Richard Swift-produced We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, at the start of this year.
Cody ChesnuTT (Atlanta, Ga.)
Singer/songwriter Cody ChesnuTT first came to a lot of people's attention as the lead vocalist on "The Seed (2.0)," a fairly big single off of The Roots' Phrenology album in 2002. That drove a lot of Roots fans to ChesnuTT's full-length from the same year, The Headphone Masterpiece, though what they heard on that album — an underproduced, ambling collection of demo-sounding tunes that surfed a wide range of genres with ADD-like abandon. A decade later, ChesnuTT has returned with a new focus, showcasing a balanced approach based in vintage Soul (vocally, he's quite similar to Marvin Gaye) and Rock & Roll, on the full-length, Landing on a Hundred.
Daughter (London, UK)
Originating as the "one-woman-band" recording project of singer/guitarist Elena Tonra, Daughter — now a trio, which Tonra's husband on guitar and drummer Remi Aguilella — mixes an Indie Folk base with subtle electronics, creating an emotive sound that can be whisper-quiet one moment and epically lush another. After a self-titled EP, Mumford & Son's Communion label released The Wild Youth EP. Often compared to Cat Power due to Tonra's vocals, last year, the band signed to the 4AD label, a fitting choice given the legendarily ambient sound that defined the label's artists in its early years. The label released the trio's debut, If You Leave, in March of this year.
METZ (Toronto, Canada)
Relentless in its sonic attack, Canadian three-piece METZ recalls a lot of the punchier Post Punk bands of the ’80s/’90s, drawing comparisons to Big Black, The Jesus Lizard and any number of acts on the (early) Sub Pop and Dischord labels. After a few years of heavy touring, opening for like-minded bands Death from Above 1979, Mudhoney and NoMeansNo, the band signed with indie label legend Sub Pop, which released METZ's powerhouse self-titled debut last year.
Kishi Bashi (Norfolk, Va.)
Starting his career as a violinist for artists like Regina Spektor and of Montreal, Seattle-born multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter K Ishibashi went solo — under the less-confusing moniker Kishi Bashi — and began touring. Making engaging Indie Pop touched by Classical/Chamber influence, the Joyful Noise imprint released his first full-length album, 151A, last spring. There's a pretty good chance you've hear Kishi Bashi before, even if you didn't know it — his jaunty, Shins-ish single "Bright Whites" was used in a wide-running commercial for Windows 8.
Julianne Barwick (Brooklyn, NY)
Julianne Barwick makes angelic Ambient music based entirely on loops. The Southern-born experimental artist — signed to Asthmatic Kitty Records — creates her compositions by using a loop station and crafting elegant layers of sonic haze, using mostly piano, her voice, some percussion and guitar. Barwick — who recently announced her signing to Dead Oceans and a new album set for August — is an up-and-comer in the Avant Garde/New Music world, recently scoring an invite recently to Yoko Ono's Meltdown Festival in the U.K.
Spectrals (Yorkshire, U.K.)
Spectrals was originally the work of one dude, British singer/songwriter Louis Jones (with just a little help from his brother on drums). Spectrals' wandering sound touches on everything from Nuggets-esque Garage to swaying, elegant Pop (threaded with reverbed-out, Surf-ish guitar). Jones signed to the Slumberland label in the States, which released his first album, Bad Penny, in 2011. For Spectrals' latest, the Sob Story album, Jones, for the first time, had some help from other musicians (who aren't related to him).The album is due June 18.
Dent May (Oxford, Miss.)
Singer/songwriter Dent May makes unabashed Pop music, the kind that forces a smile on your face regardless of your troubles. The Mississippi resident singed with Animal Collective's Paw Tracks label in 2008 and released The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, which drew comparisons to the likes of The Beach Boys, The Turtles and Prefab Sprout. For last year's self-titled album, May put away the uke and decided it was time to dance. The album is a cooly eclectic collection of dynamic electronic Pop, retaining those classic Pop/Rock influences, but adding elements of Disco, Funk, R&B Electro.
Grandfather Child (Houston, Texas)
Grandfather Child was formed in Houston in 2009 by members of various other local bands. The group hit upon a compelling "formula," creating a kitchen-sink sound that is loaded with influence from R&B, Soul, early Rock & Roll and Gospel music, resulting in a pretty psychedelic vibe. The band is signed to New West Records, which released Grandfather Child's eponymous 9-track album last summer.
The Ghost Wolves (Austin, Texas)
With a blistering sound created by just two people — guitarist Carley and drummer Jonny Wolf (both sing) — The Ghost Wolves traveled many miles across the country to build a fan base one explosive show at a time. The group's debut was the raw and rugged In Ya Neck! EP, which showcased the Wolves' fuzzy take on stompin' Blues Rock expertly, like a two-piece version of The Cramps. The band is getting set to release its debut full-length, Man, Woman, Beast.
Jeecy and The Jungle (Detroit)
Known for their reportedly incredible like show, Detroit's Soul rockers Jeecy and the Jungle represent two sides of Detroit's music heritage, blending a modern-day Garage Rock energy with influence from classic Soul artists. Last summer, the band released its impressive five-track EP, Twist and Scream.
Caveman (New York, NY)
Caveman is an NYC quintet that makes atmospheric Indie Rock with the kind of soft-breeze effervescence found in everything from the best vintage "AM Gold" songs to Fleet Foxes. The band released its debut in 2010, CoCo Beware, built a following and signed to notable label, Fat Possum Records, which re-released the debut and also the recent self-titled full-length, which has been garnering great reviews.
Perfume Genius (Seattle, Wash.)
Perfume Genius is Mike Hadreas, a Seattle singer/songwriter and visual artist whose 2010 debut caught the attention of the Indie music press corps. Quickly signed to the esteemed Matador Records, Perfume Genius' latest is Put Your Back N 2 It, a gentle, intimate collection of spectral, folksy songs.
PHOX (Madison, Wisc.)
Slanted, sparse yet broad Indie/Folk/Pop band PHOX started turning heads this year with consistent touring and a knock-out appearance at South By Southwest. The band recently released its latest EP, Confetti, which also has a companion "video EP," featuring short films for every track that the group members made simultaneously with the musical recording.
As you know, the Bengals aren’t the only celebrities that have been busted for illegal activities. Actors and actresses have certainly had their share of run-ins with the po-po, too. No one, though, is more ballsy about their lives of crime than those in the music industry. They also enjoy broadcasting their vices. While most of the smack is centered around drugs, they’ve also done their fair share of whoring and murdering, too.
Perhaps the most famous murder-boasting singer is Johnny Cash. While, as far as we can tell, Cash never actually shot a man in Reno (or anywhere) just to watch him die, he sure enjoyed singing about it. On “Cocaine Blues,” he notably sings of shooting his woman down, for example.
He’s not the only gun-toting singer, though. In “Murder Was The Case,” the hard-to-hate Snoop Dogg rapped about the allegations that he murdered a rival gang member. On the other end of the musical spectrum, everyone’s favorite space oddity, David Bowie, sang of going on a killing spree in “Running Gun Blues.”
Of course, Morrissey sang of killing in The Smiths' “Meat is Murder.” But that doesn’t count, because there’s nothing illegal about a steak. Thank God.
A distant third on the list of bad things to sing about are sex crimes. Most disturbing is the personal favorite of nearly every girl who grew up in the '90's. We all grew up singing with Reba on “Fancy,” but we were quite a bit older before we realized what, exactly, Fancy was up to. Mama Fancy turned her daughter out to prostitute.
Our long-time love affair with sex doesn’t stop at “Fancy,” though. In 1967, The Velvet Underground released one of their more mainstream hits, “There She Goes Again.” Listen carefully — It’s pretty blunt. Sting, always the voice of morality, tried to clean up the streets with The Police’s hit, “Roxanne.” It didn’t work. Of course, sex crimes include more than just street-walking. Sublime’s “Date Rape” is a song about a much more serious sex crime. Only Bradley Nowell could take it full-circle so … poetically.
Perhaps the biggest illegal vice used as song fodder by Rock stars, Country musicians and rappers alike is drug use. Oh, where to begin?! Nearly all of the previously mentioned artists have songs about drugs, but there are so many more to chose from!
“Next Episode” from Dr. Dre, Snoop, and Nate Dogg is almost entirely about smoking weed (and also drinking and the alphabet, both still legal — for now). It also has a pretty catchy last line. It’s safe to say the number of people who know all the words to this song is far greater than number of people who actually partake in its subject matter on a daily basis.
Back in the '90's, AltRock band K’s Choice sang “Not an Addict.” Someone should tell her that the first step is admitting you have a problem. The Beach Boys sing about drugs in “Good Vibrations," yet another song sung innocently by children all over America. And there’s the famous “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix (you’d chastise me if I didn’t mention it).
Let’s face it, “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll” is a cliche saying for a reason. While we at CityBeat in no way condone partaking in any illegal activities, it’s fun to live vicariously through our friends on the radio.
Once again, here’s a playlist of even more songs about breaking the rules.
Twice a year the huddled masses gather at their favorite watering holes and bond over their shared ethnicity. Whether your ancestors came over in the Mayflower, through Ellis Island or in the back of a pick-up doesn’t matter. In March, everyone is Irish and, in May, we’re all Mexican.
When Cinco De Mayo rolls around and we’re all throwing back Cuervo, perhaps we’ll offer some Mariachi music for consideration. But first we need to tackle St. Patrick’s Day. The days of 99 bottles and drunken sailors are over now. There’s a whole new set of awesomely Irish drinking and fighting songs and there are three bands that always make my St. Paddy’s playlist. Grab a Guinness, some Jameson or a car bomb, and listen up.
For Irish music, it’s probably best to start in Boston. Beantown is not just home to one of the largest populations of Irish Immigrants in America and it’s more than just the setting for the uber-violent and super awesome movie, Boondock Saints. Boston is also home to Dropkick Murphys, the quintessential contemporary Irish Punk band. Made up of seven Southies, Dropkick has been causing drunken brawls in Boston and beyond since 1995. Among the normal Rock instruments, you’ll also hear the sounds of traditional Irish instruments like bagpipes and tin whistle. When the band starts chanting the title to their war anthem “Hang ‘Em High,” only crashing of pint glasses will do. For a song purely about drinking, though, one needs look no deeper into their massive collection of singles than 2002’s “Alcohol.”
Similar to Dropkick Murphys but slightly less … angry is Flogging Molly. The seven piece band from Los Angeles takes traditional Irish music and turns the volume up to 11. They do this by adding an electric guitar and a well-manned drum kit to the usual collection of instruments you hear in Irish music. That means the band also includes a fiddle, an accordion and a mandolin. While just about every song they play is worthy of rebel rousing fun, “Drunken Lullabies” and “Don’t Shut ‘em Down” are two of the best. The latter isn’t technically a drinking song, but rather social commentary than will certainly have you ordering another Jameson.
You know I love playlists. This one is heavy with Dropkick and Flogging, but I also stuck in a few other drinking songs. (As much as I hate to admit it, I kind of like Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.”)
Grab a green beer, take a listen and feel free to groan at all the clichés.
There are times in some bands’ careers when, in order to take the next step forward, it first has to take a step back.
That is what has occurred with Cincinnati-based desert-rockers Valley of the Sun between the release of 2013’s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk and the recently-released album Volume Rock. For the new full-length (issued in late April through Swedish-based label Fuzzorama Records), the duo — guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer — has toned down some of Thunderhawk’s more eclectic and intricate tendencies in favor of bombastic and driving rhythms. This has resulted in album that has lost a little musical depth, but has gained a far greater grip on the listener’s ear.
Volume Rock establishes its tonal shift right out of the gate with a trio of absolutely monumental Rock & Roll bangers. “Eternal Forever,” “Wants and Needs” and “The Hunt” showcase the strengths that Valley has spent so much time and effort honing. Ferrier’s soaring vocals have a range and power that commands the listener’s attention, while Boyer hits his cymbals with the strength of a meteor crash, his playing drawing your attention whenever Ferrier isn’t on the mic. Weaving throughout is Ferrier’s clean and infectious guitar work, with riff layered upon riff and crafting an auditory sandwich that headbangers are sure to want of bite of. But VotS retains its deeper side on Volume Rock, with Ferrier’s lyrics carrying many of his ongoing themes of higher consciousness, personal introspection and Earth’s natural beauty. It’s just that on this go around, the lyrics are wrapped in even more hooks, making the tracks more instantly and irresistibly sing-along-worthy.
This isn’t to say that Volume Rock is simple or toned down. It’s just that the flourishes found within seem designed to be more easily replicated (and perhaps more impactful) live, and overall there is a more natural feel to the songs. Hand claps, tambourine, a 12-string guitar interlude in “Land of Fools” and other ornamentation give the album a fresh sound while still keeping the tonal theme running through the entirety of its nine tracks.
Like Thunderhawk, Volume Rock features a reworking of a track from VotS’s first EP, 2010’s five-song Two Thousand Ten. But whereas Thunderhawk’s version of “Centaur Rodeo” added different drumming parts and a few other embellishments, Volume Rock’s re-do of “I Breathe the Earth” is more heavily tweaked, bolstering the song’s strengths and mending some weaknesses, while also adding more than a minute to its original running time. The backing vocals are stronger and more dynamic, the guitar tone has more depth and the drumming sounds fuller. With “Earth,” Valley of the Sun was able to take a song that longtime fans already loved and make it even better.
While Volume Rock is undoubtedly a fast and furious LP, fans of the VotS’s more expansive work will still find plenty to love. Of special note is “Speaketh the Shaman” and album closer, “Empty Visions.” Both songs exceed the five-minute mark (not uncommon for the band), showcasing Ferrier’s guitar work by giving the licks more room to breathe. Ferrier’s vocals also expand to throat-ripping levels, and the combination of his guitar and voice swirl through the tracks like the smoke from a, uh, “cigarette,” filling your speakers with righteous Desert Rock majesty.
In many ways, Volume Rock’s name says it all. This is an album that deserves to be turned to 11. It’s the perfect accompaniment to rolled-down windows, long stretches of highway and summer heat. Valley of the Sun spent three years between releases and the musicians used the time to focus on what made the band what it is, and then pushing those qualities to the forefront. In that respect, Volume Rock is a success — while there may be less going on in each song, there’s more of the band’s essence and identity throughout the album. And that identity is too loud to be snubbed.
Valley of the Sun is currently on another extensive tour overseas promoting Volume Rock, which is available in the States on most major digital platforms (like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Spotify). Certain mail-order services (like Amazon and musicdirect.com) also offer the hard-copy versions on CD and vinyl. You can also stream or purchase the album at Fuzzorama’s Bandcamp site here, or by clicking one of the embedded tracks above.
Though the Super Bowl is taking place about 100 miles from Cincinnati, my guess is that most of us locals will be sitting on our couches, casually watching from the comfort of our own homes. If you're like me, you cringe at the cost of going to a hometown NFL game. The people at the Super Bowl might not all be those much-talked-about top-1% rich folks … but they're at least top-10% if they can afford Super Bowl prices (or they're lower-income people prepared to go homeless for a few months).
If you're staying home Sunday and watching the game on the tube, here's a little Super Bowl music playlist — a mix of the obvious and the obtuse — you can drink beer to while getting ready (or when you turn the sound down for Madonna's halftime show).
Memorial Day (originally called “Decoration Day”) was founded after the Civil War. The amount of men both the South and the Union lost during the Civil War was so staggering that it is often still referred to as our bloodiest war. Needing a way to grieve for their fallen loved ones, women and children took to the cemeteries to decorate the graves of their killed husbands, fathers and brothers. Over time, as America involved itself in more wars and saw the loss of more men and, eventually women, Memorial Day soon came to be a day to memorialize all fallen comrades, not just those from the Civil War.
These days, despite the fact that we still have thousands of soldiers deployed overseas, the meaning of Memorial Day seems to have diminished. For many people, it marks the start of summer. It’s the day where it’s officially OK to unroll the cover off your hibernating pool. It’s an excuse to invite over a few friends and fire up the grill. We build bunkers out of charcoal, dodge the friendly fire of water guns and begin donning our summer uniforms of shorts and tank-tops. Rarely, however, do we stop to remember the soldiers who have fallen in order for us to enjoy the oncoming lazy days of summer.
As Americans, we are certainly a culture full of short attention spans and we, the media, do a piss poor job of helping you remember why Memorial Day is still relevant. We publish thousands of words each year memorializing overdosed musicians and crazy, drug addled actors. We’d rather publish images of wild-eyed and high comedians than show you the reality of the flag covered caskets that still come rolling in off of planes each week. That’s incredibly pathetic when you consider that roughly 6,400 soldiers have been killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. So, maybe it’s our fault.
This year deserves to be different, though. Recently, one of my best friends sent me a video of a bunch of bored soldiers in Iraq dancing to a Vanilla Ice song. We’d been discussing the reasoning behind the exorbitant amount of soldier suicides. I guess it had gotten the best of both our moods and he decided we needed to cheer up. Except he failed. As I watched the videos, I couldn’t help but wonder just how many of those boys were still alive.
They really were boys, too. None of them look any older than the staff at CityBeat. Most of them look a lot younger. Soldiers are hardly grown-ups — according to Congressional record, the average age of a combat soldier is 27 and 68 percent of the fallen soldiers are under the age of 30. For many of us, that means they’re kids who went to our school. They’re our prom dates, point guards, arch-enemies and best friends.
This Memorial Day, as you’re preparing for your summer-long battle with mosquitoes and weeds, enjoy this playlist of fun, bar-b-q worthy music (including two versions of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”). At some point, though, check out the videos that go along with them. Even if you have no personal acquaintance to memorialize, take time to remember that others around the patio table may have someone missing. Say “Thank you” to the dude with the U.S. Marines sticker on the back of his jeep (he’s surely lost a friend or two) or apologize to the mother with the gold star on her service banner. Drink a beer for the girl you knew back in high school who was in ROTC or take your kid to go pop an American flag on their great-great-grandpa’s grave.
With each passing year, the reasons behind any war almost always end up blurry. Don’t let the faces of our soldiers become that way, too.
Wedding season has officially arrived, and that means parties, dinners, showers and more parties. Yikes! It’s the perfect blend between terrifying and awesome.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to host a dear friend’s rehearsal dinner at a creative space called The Living Room. The bride and groom are in their early 20s, so the theme we chose was more of a modern, rustic feel, decorated with a collection of various plants, aged white windowpanes, flowers in vintage beer bottles and a handmade chalk drawing of the Cincinnati skyline across the blackboard wall in the café.
I created a playlist for the occasion that would fit both their personalities and the central theme of the dinner, avoiding the expected Whitney Houston or Michael Bolton tracks. This soundtrack consists of Indie, Folk and Alternative music old and new that almost everyone in the wedding party would recognize as they poured through the speakers. Hearing them sing along as they picked at the hors d'oeuvres was just the icing on the cake. (Well, the cake didn’t come until after dinner).
Check it out and see if these (not overly-cheesy) love songs will fit well in your upcoming rehearsal dinner playlist!
“Sweet Disposition” – Temper Trap
This song is strong and delicate altogether. “…A dream, a laugh, a kiss, a cry,” are all pieces of love and what we feel when we’re in it. The rapid, spacey beat is not only gorgeous, but the lyrics are no less than short and powerful.
“Mess Is Mine” – Vance Joy
What’s mine is yours — for better and for worse. It’s the concept that when you’re with someone, they are a part of you. Their problems become your problems, and this upbeat, warm song with an honest message truly says it best.
“Grow Old With Me” – Tom Odell
This song is so stinkin’ sweet. It’s heartwarming, dreaming about a future with the one you love the most. Starting slow and fading into a quick tempo, Odell’s voice gradually expresses how intense it is to feel this way toward someone for the rest of your life. Oh, and how wonderful it is.
“Ends of the Earth” – Lord Huron
When you’re in a car, driving off into the unknown with your favorite human by your side holding your hand so lightly, this is the song you want to have playing. “To the ends of the earth, would you follow me?” If marriage is an adventure, would you?
“Ho Hey” – The Lumineers
This lovely little song (already known by most) is the simplest way of saying you and your “sweetheart” belong together. It’s catchy, it’s happy and it’s even a sweet song to dance along to. The clapping alongside the rustic instruments will be enough to you get you on your feet with your partner, spinning around and loving how much you love them.
“She (For Liz)” – Parachute
I had to throw this song on here simply because the name of the bride is — you guessed it — Elizabeth. It’s that “she, she, she, story-of-a-girl” song that describes the uniqueness of one woman that makes a man love her over anyone else. Although Parachute doesn’t exactly say the name “Liz”, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
“Budapest” – George Ezra
This semi-recent song by George Ezra (whose baby face does NOT match his soothingly-deep voice) describes the passion one human has for another, so strong they would leave even the greatest things in their life. Those materialistic things have no place over that person.
“XO” – John Mayer
Almost any John Mayer on your rehearsal dinner playlist is pretty much a necessity, considering the guy’s voice practically has love embedded in it. Recreating an acoustic cover of Beyoncé’s single ‘XO’, Mayer easily gives an already beautifully written song a slower, more soothing twist for listeners looking to feed their love-struck minds.
“Like Real People Do” – Hozier
This one is a bit different. My interpretation is that the past is in the past — and however scary the future is, they should let it be. When you’re in love with someone so deeply, sometimes it’s easier to put the pain of the past away and focus on the beauty of what’s to come. Hozier did a heavenly job of putting it, pairing it with its light and angelic melody.
“Home” – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
“Home is wherever I’m with you.” YES. We love this one because that Southern-Folk sound and those sweeter-than-apple-pie lyrics can make a person feel so freaking giddy inside. It’s meant to make you feel like you really are home anywhere you go, but the reality is, it’s because of whose by your side.
The Heights Music Festival returns this weekend for its fall event and another wide-ranging sampling of Cincinnati’s original music scene. Music will run Friday and Saturday night from 7 p.m. until about closing time at four venues in Clifton Heights near the University of Cincinnati campus — Baba Budan’s, Mac’s Pizza Pub, Christy’s Biergarten and Rohs Street Café (the only location open to music lovers of all ages).
Here's the full lineup/schedule for this year.
Rohs Street Cafe : 7:00 – Music Resource Center showcase; 8:00 – Wendy’s Yellow Poncho; 9:00 – MC Forty and Wonder Brown ; 10:00 – Cowgirl; 11:00 – The Yugos
8:00 – Sulla;
9:00 – Second Chance At Eden;
10:00 – Damn It To Hell
; 11:00 – Buenos Crotches
; 12:00 – Grey Host
Mac’s Pizza Pub:
8:00 – The Celestials;
9:00 – Majestic Man
; 10:00 – The MJ’s Blues
; 11:00 – Hickory Robot;
12:00 – Jeremy Pinnell & The 55′s;
1:00 – The Founding Fathers
8:00 – The Marmalade Brigade;
9:00 – The Heavy Hinges;
10:00 – The Perfect Children;
11:00 – Shrub (Columbus, OH); 12:00 – The Guitars
Rohs Street Cafe : 7:00 – Elementz Hip Hop Youth Center showcase; 8:00 – Alex Evans ; 9:00 – For Algernon ; 10:00 – Young Heirlooms ; 11:00 – Oui Si Yes
8:00 – Pursuing Hounds
; 9:00 – Sweet Ray Laurel
; 10:00 – Jamwave;
11:00 – The Regrettes (Columbus, OH);
12:00 – The Natives
Mac’s Pizza Pub: 8:00 – Tangerine Sound Machine ; 9:00 – Somebody’s Something ; 10:00 – Big Rock Club ; 11:00 – Valley High ; 12:00 – Junya Be & Wazali
: 8:00 – Killer Looks & Noise
; 9:00 – Horsecop;
10:00 – Loudmouth;
11:00 – Black Signal
; 12:00 – DAAP Girls;
1:00 – The Frankl Project
Tickets are $5 per night if purchased in advance through cincyticket.com here. Admission is $8 for one night or $12 for both if purchased at the festival. Visit the fest's official site here for more info. Here's a sampler the organizers compiled featuring some of the performers:
With vocals as scratchy as sandpaper and an instrumental rock sound, Bootstraps are killing it with their soundtrack — their only soundtrack, to be exact.
Bootstraps are unique while maintaining a bit of what you’ve heard before. Lead singer Jordan Beckett’s voice is similar to Ray Lamontagne, while the overall sound resembles something along the lines of Coldplay. Explosions in the Sky’s strong yet delicate instrumentals play a part in the vibe this intimate band gives to their listeners.
Based in Los Angeles, Bootstraps’ admiration for California does not go unnoticed in their tracks. “OH CA” speaks for itself, while the rest of the jams have a majestic, passionate sound that carries you away to the oceans of Cali and the scenic roads that lead you there.
Personally, I’ve found Bootstraps to be a beautiful soundtrack for writing, reading and connecting deeply with your own emotions. (That’s right. ALL the feels.) My good friend Amanda with similar music taste commented on this newly discovered band and said, “I want to drink bourbon and sit and in a dark, rich, old bar while I listen to them.”
I couldn’t agree more.
My boyfriend pointed out that “their echo sounds like they are in the room next to you,” and although he wasn’t a fan of that, I absolutely was. If a band can prove to the listener that they sound that good in a live setting, then they are one hell of an artist, filled with the kind of talent that lacks a heavy amount tweaking.
Bootstraps made their mark in my book. Even though their songs remain at a mostly slow pace, I still find myself turning them on even at my happiest moments.
just that good.