The first 6 months of 2013 have passed and it’s time to reflect on all my favourite releases. Below is a list of the albums I feel deserve to be among my top 5 of the first 2 quarters in 2013.
5. Skillet – Rise
I’ve always been a little sceptical when it comes to Christian rock bands. Firstly, I always imagined Christian musicians being long-haired folk singers in tie-dye shirts. Secondly, I wasn’t too keen on a rock band telling me how I should embrace faith in the style of Seether. However, when I took the time to listen to Christian rock band Skillet I felt quite ashamed of my preconceptions and judgements. Rise is not an album pushing an agenda, it’s a 14 track attempt at inspiration. Today’s society is filled with animosity, suffering and degradation. We deal with a suffocating nothingness on a daily basis. Considering this, it’s nice to hear music about the pleasantries in life. My favourite would have to be ‘Good To Be Alive’ – a cheery, uplifting tune saying it is good to be alive regardless of the crappy stuff.
4. Hollywood Undead – Notes From The Underground
One of my favourite bands is Linkin Park. I’ve followed them since Hybrid Theory, so it’s no wonder that Hollywood Undead would find their way to my CD rack. In comparison to Linkin Park, Hollywood Undead have 5 vocalists. What I enjoy about this is each of the vocalists bring a unique flavour to their albums allowing an exploration of the entire rap metal genre from East Side/West Side rap to black metal, and this is evident in Notes From The Underground. I particularly enjoyed the track ‘Pigskin’ where HU removed themselves from the usual rap metal tones adopting a more mainstream rapping style singing about ‘booty calls’ and ‘dropping down low.’ It’s a satirical track ridiculing a capitalist society from within before returning to their anti-governmental themes. Notes From The Underground is an insightful, amusing and inspirational album for anyone who doesn’t understand booty shorts.
3. 30 Seconds To Mars – Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams
When I listen to a song my attention is immediately drawn to the lead vocals. It’s a common behaviour as the vocals are often the key component. However, in Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams it wasn’t Jared Leto’s beautiful voice that blew me away, it was the accompaniments and song structure. I’m not a devote 30 Seconds fan, but I know their sound and recognise the passion for music on all their albums. This album has the 30 Seconds feel, but the prominent double bass and violins in the majority of tracks give it a ‘soothing angst’ in comparison to the traditional feeling of inner torment. My favourite track is ‘Depuis Le Debut’ which features Leto singing along to an acoustic guitar for 1:00 minute, immediately followed by a full symphonic surge before an abrupt ending with the word ‘Love’. This album is more insightful and sophisticated than the 30 Second’s previous albums and I would love to see it performed live.
2. The Maine – Forever Happy
Forever Happy was my introduction to The Maine. The only reason I came across the album was via a NeverShoutNever website and I am glad I clicked that link. Forever Happy is an incredibly honest album about the difficulties of being a twenty-something living in 2013. They discuss the distorted relationships, societal pressures, constant self-criticism and even those rare moments of self-acceptance – inner conflict is not exclusive to teenagers. It’s difficult to pinpoint a defining track, but I found ‘Birthday In Los Angeles’ and ‘These Four Words’ the most intimate of the album. These tracks showcase the emotions behind John O’Callaghan’s vocals brilliantly. He reaches out connecting with his listener and sharing his insight on some of the most challenging personal issues the Generation Y population experience. It’s a raw and penetrating album filled with perception. I’m glad I took 45 minutes out of my day for The Maine.
1. Mindless Self Indulgence – How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit And Love Mindless Self Indulgence
One of my favourite bassists is Lyn-Z Way of Mindless Self Indulgence. I truly admire her as a person and performer, and I will never forget how she admitted to finding Mindless Self Indulgence annoying when she first heard their music. She didn’t like them at all but couldn’t stop listening to them. This is how I feel about Mindless – they’re loud and obnoxious, but once you start you can’t stop. It’s the delightfully offensive attitude that claws its way into your cranium and won’t let go. Their latest album How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit And Love Mindless Self Indulgence looks at the festering side of life, the ugly things we don’t like seeing. It explores themes such as addiction, self-loathing, suicide. My favourite track is ‘Witness’, the very first song. It begins with Jimmy Urine screaming ‘Son of a bitch/God loves me!’ It’s an immediate indication that this album is going to be as intense as the others. Mindless Self Indulgence may not be as ‘polished’ as other bands but it’s that raw honesty that keeps me coming back for more.