Saturday, 22 November 2008

Favourite Bands and Artists

I wrote about my favourite films last week so I'll carry on the theme and do favourite bands/artists this week. I will get to books eventually too. I don't think this will be as long as my last post you'll be pleased to hear, with the exception of maybe one or two. I find music really hard to talk about, I know nothing about it really. I play no instruments, although I do have grade 1 recorder, woo hoo! I have a really odd relationship with music because in some ways it affects me far more than film but I never have the time to listen to it much so I'm quite limited in what I listen too. I have an amazing friend who is trying his hardest to make me listen to stuff he thinks I'll like and I'm slowly working through it all....slowly, maybe if I update this list next year there'll be a few new entries.

So here we go, in no particular order BUT starting with my all time No.1!

1) My Chemical Romance
I can't seem to write a single post without mentioning this band but that's because, and I say this in all seriousness, they are my life. It's become an 'MCR' cliche to say 'they saved my life' and it's so melodramatic but they really got me through some awful times and I so wish they'd been around when I was a teenager.

I used to catch my boyfriend watching their videos from time to time, I'd seen the 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise)' video and I just didn't get it. I loved the song and thought I might like them but I assumed they were teenagers that had been overstyled by their record company and that just turned me off. Then I was driving home from work in Coventry one day in 2006, I lived there for a few years and had managed to lose any sense of who I was or wanted to be, Scott Mills had a new record of the week - 'Welcome To The Black Parade'. That was it, I was hooked. I went out and bought all of their albums and any magazines I could find with them in, I did it all wrong and listened to the albums from newest to oldest but by the time I'd finished my life was turned around. This was the band I'd waited for my whole life. Suddenly I didn't mind getting up in the morning, it was a excuse to find out more about them and listen to more songs. I realised that they really were their own band and were much older and smarter than I'd ever realised.

Within a week I had my first 'MCR' tattoo, it's just MCR written on my wrist. People think I'll regret it, trust me when I say I could never regret it. It's not just their music, it's them, it's what they say, what they stand for, how they treat their fans, it's an aesthetic, an attitude. Everything. They've changed my life and I want that documented on my body. I now also have a piece of
artwork form their 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise)' single on my arm and I'm planning many, many, more. Because of 'MCR' I've found my own sense of style again, I've found myself again.

People either love or hate 'MCR', there are few people that sit on the fence. I'm a true believer that you can't simply hate something because you think it's cool to hate something and also you should listen to as much as you can by a band before you make up your mind. People judge 'MCR' on two things. One, the fact their classed as emo. They are not emo! They're what the media classes as emo. Read your music history books and you'll soon see what emo is/was. Two, 'The Black Parade' album. Yes it was over the top, yes the singles appealed to the 'emo' *rolls eyes* crowd but that's not all the album was and that's certainly not what their other albums are like. So I'll give you a little overview of each of their albums so that you can understand this point a little better.

'I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love' - This album is pretty raw and their most 'punk' sounding, it's really uncommercial and was released under New Jersey label Eyeball Records. The band formed straight after September 11th and the song 'Skylines and Turnstiles' deals with this issue. The rest of the songs reference vampires and death quite heavily. The vampires often represent people who feed off of others for their own selfish gains and the death mentions often refer to bad relationships and breakups. It's a concept album and the story loosely centers on two lovers who find the world overrun with vampires and go on the run. There are also mentions of Gerard Way's (as well as other members of the band's) early drug and alcohol abuse.
My favourite songs are
'Our Lady Of Sorrows', 'Demolition Lovers', 'Early Sunsets Over Monroeville' and 'Headfirst For Halos'.

'Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge' - Certainly more commercial and released under Warner Reprise, this is where I'd say the majority of fans got on board but also where they lost some of their earlier, more underground fanbase. It's yet another concept album and takes off where the last one ended. The guy sells his soul to the devil, delivering the souls of 1000 evil men, in return for the soul of his damned lover who was bitten by vampires. It deals strongly with homosexuality, self esteem and most obviously loss. Gerard and Mikey's grandmother died as they were writing it and the whole album is dedicated to her.
My favourite songs are 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise)',
'Thank You For The Venom' and my all time favourite of theirs 'It's Not A Fashion Statement, It's A Fucking Deathwish'.

'The Black Parade' - This album was inspired by artists like Queen and David Bowie. It's a rock-opera and saw a real shift in sound and style. The concept is about a young man, 'The Patient' who's just died from cancer, and it's a look back at various episodes in his life. By this time Gerard was completely clean and sober and so there are references to his addictions and issues. Mikey, the bassist, went through a severe depression whilst recording and nearly left the band and this is spoken about on the record as well.
My favourite songs are 'Famous Last Words', 'Mama', 'Disenchanted', 'This Is How I Disappear' and 'The Sharpest Lives'. BUT listen to the bsides to all of the singles, they're amazing and
'Kill All Your Friends' is one of my favourite songs ever.

Wow I've written a lot here. Sorry. I've not written half of what I'd like to either! Just one last thing. 'MCR's' singer Gerard Way is my ultimate hero. He suffers from depression, has been a drug addict and alcoholic but he's cleaned himself up and never stopped caring about the fans or the music. He tells his fans to look after themselves, seek help if they have depression, are getting bullied or suffer from self harm and other issues, he also does a huge amount of work (along with the rest of the band) for the
'Make A Wish Foundation' and other charities. He turned a tragedy like September 11th into something positive for himself and the rest of the band. He's an amazing artist and comic book writer. I managed to meet him last year and he was a true gentleman. We also won some tickets to an exclusive fan only gig they played at KOKO, when they played 'Famous Last Words' Gerard came into the audience and held my hand as he sang. It was the best day of my life. Unlike other bands and singers, and despite what some people think, I honestly believe he's a decent person and he's changed my life.

2) One Night Only
This is the only other band I would queue for hours to see (and I do) and spend money on buying tickets and merch....and I know I shouldn't. They are my guilty pleasure. I know they're not the best band in the world and my friends rip it out of me for liking them but I can't help it, they're very different to anything I normally listen to and I don't really understand why I like them so much, I guess their music makes me happy, what can I say?!
ONO only have one album, 'Started A Fire', and they've not been around for very long. I started liking them in April this year and I've met them so many times they actually recognise me now. Most people I meet don't know them, they've only had one big hit 'Just For Tonight' but some of their new stuff is really good and fingers crossed they'll have another hit soon.

I know some of their lyrics are bad but I put that down to the fact their young and maybe trying too hard but their gigs are always really good fun, I've met some really great people and good friends over the past few months and you always see the same faces. The band always sign autographs and take photos with their fans which is really nice too.
My favourite songs are 'This Kingdom Perfect', 'Just For Tonight', 'Newby Road' and 'Time'.

3) The Killers
I remember driving in my car in Coventry (again) and hearing 'Mr. Brightside' and thinking it was great. I even ran into the flat and told my boyfriend I'd just heard he best song ever.

Everyone knows who they are so I won't go into loads of detail. I LOVE their first album 'Hot Fuss' it has an 80's feel and even the most upbeat songs can have a slightly darker edge. My dream in life is to learn to play the guitar and perform 'Glamorous Indie Rock And Roll', even though I can't sing, if anyone can make that happen then call me. I'm not so keen on 'Sam's Town' their second album, it has a bit of a 'Bruce Springsteen', all-American feel to it that doesn't overly appeal to me but there are still some amazing songs on there. 'Sawdust', their compilation of rarities and bsides, is ace. I didn't pay much attention to it at first but I'm listening to it more and more recently and really enjoying it. Their new album 'Day & Age' is out later this month and I think it's going to be more like 'Hot Fuss' if the singles are anything to go by so I'm excited.
My favourite songs are 'Glamorous Indie Rock And Roll', 'Andy, You're A Star, 'Everything Will Be Alright', 'Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine', 'Uncle Jonny', 'Mr. Brightside' and 'Change Your Mind'.

4) Gallows
'Gallows' are just too good. I love hardcore punk and they've really bought it back and managed to get the feel of a band like 'Black Flag' but with a completely new edge. They come from Watford and have a reputation for staying away from their fans. Now I normally think it's important to interact with your fans but 'Gallows' do this in a different way, they use their Myspace and official website to give exclusive tracks and gig tickets to fans.

I managed to see them at Astoria and it was crazy, as Frank jumped into the crowd he was pulled down and nearly strangled. He managed to get back on stage and could hardly talk but he gave a great speech about how as fans we should never put musicians on a pedestal, it's about the music and nothing else. I should listen to that advice far more often but I do find it hard not to get carried away, especially when some bands music can be so personal so it's hard to know where to draw a line. Frank is also a tattoo artist and I'd love to get inked by him. My boyfriend keeps seeing him walking around Soho and I want him to kidnap him so he can tattoo me.

I wish there were more bands like 'Gallows'. They only have one album out at the moment 'Orchestra Of Wolves' and I'm wearing it out waiting for their new stuff. Head over to their Myspace to get a free download of a new song 'Gold Dust'.
My favourite songs are 'Abandon Ship', 'Orchestra Of Wolves' and their covers of 'Nervous Breakdown' and 'Staring At The Rude Bois'.

5) Leathermouth
This is Frank Iero from 'MCR's' other band and it's really different. They're hardcore punk and Franks screams his way through every song. Hardcore is Franks passion and it's so great to hear him go back to the music that has influenced him the most.

They don't have an album out yet but they've just signed to Epitaph and are due to release their debut in January which I just know will be out of this world. I'm hoping and praying they'll play some UK dates soon but I also know tickets will be a nightmare to get hold of.
My favourite songs are 'Murder Was The Case That They Gave Me' and 'Bodysnatchers Forever'.

I also love Franks old band 'Pencey Prep', they split up before 'MCR' started but I love their music. Frank sounds really whiney when he sings but the actual songs are great.

6) Amy Winehouse
I can't lie, I haven't heard her first album, well I've heard one or two songs but that doesn't count. However 'Back To Black' is fantastic. I love the old school sound with the modern lyrics and you cannot deny her voice is out of this world.

I used to hate Amy Winehouse, I thought her look was terrible and she was trying too hard. Then she went all 1960's beehive and tattoos and she became a Queen to me! I know that has nothing to do with the music but she just pulled the sound and the look together and it worked for me, she became a complete package. I really hope she comes up with some new tracks soon, she's certainly got enough to write about.
My favourite songs are 'You Know I'm No Good', 'Tears Dry On Their Own' and 'Back To Black'.

7) Backstreet Boys
My real guilty pleasure! I saw their first ever gig in the UK when they supported 'PJ & Duncan' (I won't go there) and I've never missed a show since. I even dragged my boyfriend along to a show in Birmingham once. He was not happy, especially when AJ said, " And now we're going to slow it down a bit," Adam was like, "Noooooooo! It's slow already!" Poor thing.
I know they're cheesey and I know they're manufactured but they're so polished and so dedicated to getting it right. I went to see them in concert this year and really wasn't expecting to enjoy it because they'd been away for so long. I went on my own and had the BEST time! They put on such a great show and I felt like I was 14 again....god that was so long ago! I won't go on about them, you know who they are and what they do.
My favourite songs are 'Shape Of My Heart', 'Drowning' and 'Anywhere For You'

I like other people too but I'm struggling to think of any I really care about at the moment. I love 'The Smiths', 'Joy Division', 'Misfits', 'Black Flag', 'Johnny Cash', 'Buddy Holly'....but those guys are all legends and I really don't know enough about them to write about their music. I also like 'The Libertines', 'Rise Against', 'Taking Back Sunday', 'Rancid', 'Paramore', 'Madonna', 'Greenday', 'Billy Talent', 'Air Traffic'.....oh and I won't hear a word said against 'Geri Halliwell'! I swear she tries so hard bless her and she's wicked! Oh and check this out.

So that's it. Next week you can read another essay on the books I like. They're getting shorter at least.

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