Chase & Status: The Creative Concept Behind “Flashing Lights”

It’s hard to believe MTV started as a hosting platform for music videos. Flash-forward some thirty years and the channel is a mere shell of its piloting concept. Reality TV now dominates the slots that were once intended for ‘music television,’ but given our generation’s lackluster videos it may have worked out for the better. In recent years, creativity has taken a back-burner to the generic glorification of riches, bitches and “YOLO” fever. With all the ways to showcase talent, I don’t understand why I see the same stock models rotated around for different videos.

I’m a believer that creative video concepts can amplify a musician’s appeal. Visionary artists who detour from the ordinary will often generate intrigue due to their avant-garde approach. Just take the London-based duo, Chase & Status, as a prime example.

Chase & Status are music producers who have created a fortune by navigating away from the norm. The eclectic pair won ‘Best Video’ for their song, “End Credits,” at the 2010 Q Awards, in addition to several nominations for their original and collaborative mixes. Their 2011 “Flashing Lights” video is now regarded as a sinister success; coupling macabre undertones with a buildup of dubstep, break-beat rhythms.

I found “Flashing Lights” to be the perfect blend of drama and drums, but what’s your opinion? Is this video the new wave of creative expression, or the projection of your nightmares?

Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer James Eldred’s picks

I would like to preface this list by saying that I have not yet listened to Cee-Lo Green’s new album nor Kanye West’s latest – which everyone and their mother is telling me is a freaking masterpiece. So a more apt title of this list might be “The Top 10 albums of the year that I got around to.”

1. Foxy Shazam: Foxy Shazam
If I had my way this list would have one album. That’s right, this album is so good that it is actually the 10 best albums of the year. Hell, it’s the 20 best albums of the year, and the five albums of 2009. Foxy Shazam aren’t just a band, they are a force of nature that will kick your ass, steal your lunch money and make sweet love to you all at the same time. “Count Me Out,” “Bye Bye Symphony,” “Bombs Away,” the list just goes on and on, every song on this album could be a Top 10 single. Yet somehow none of them have been. America, you’re letting me down even more than usual. There is no greater band on the planet than Foxy Shazam. They are here to take over the world and be the biggest rock stars since the Beatles. So if you all could just accept that already and buy this album now, that would be great.

2. Goldfrapp: Head First
Most artists who try to recreate that classic ’80s dance sound usually crash and burn, sounding more like a parody of the music they’re trying to replicate (Owl City springs to mind) than the real deal. But Goldfrapp pulled it off with this release, channeling the soundtrack to “Flashdance” and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” (in a good way!) on instantly danceable tracks like “Rocket” and “Alive.”

3. The Sword: Warp Riders
There are not enough metal bands making concept albums about intergalactic space battles. Thankfully the Sword realized this, and updated their mythology-based themes for the 21st century, changing their focus on medieval wizards and warriors to space-faring heroes and transcendental beings who traverse space and time. The fist-pounding metal that accompanies the far out narrative is pretty damn good as well.

4. Coheed & Cambria: Year of the Black Rainbow
Okay, maybe there are other bands creating concept albums about intergalactic space battles. But while the Sword is like “Aliens,” direct and to the point, Coheed & Cambria’s conclusion to their epic Armory Wars saga is like “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and Rush’s 2112 all rolled into one incredibly overblown and bombastic delight.

5. Sleigh Bells: Treats
What is it about Brooklyn and male/female electronic duos? First Matt & Kim, and now these two. But while Matt & Kim delivered the audio equivalent of a big hug with Sidewalks, Sleigh Bells’ Treats is like a sonic punch in the face, a bizarre combination of industrial, punk and straight-up noise that is louder and more original than any other record this year.


Read the rest after the jump...

Nitzer Ebb: Industrial Complex


RIYL: Depeche Mode, Combichrist, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

Nitzer Ebb’s last album was Big Hit, which came out in 1995. Since then the group both broke up and got back together with hardly anyone noticing. It makes sense; they weren’t exactly superstars. Even at the peak of their popularity with tracks like “Join in the Chant” and “Fun to Be Had,” they were also-rans in the industrial/electronic scenes. They never got the success that groups like Depeche Mode enjoyed, and they never enjoyed the cult success of more abrasive and harder-sounding groups like Ministry and Skinny Puppy. So the fact that we’re even talking about Nitzer Ebb in 2010 is pretty amazing, and the fact that were talking about a great new record by Nitzer Ebb in 2010 is freaking mindblowing.

Nitzer_Ebb_01

Seriously, where the hell did this come from? This is one of Nitzer Ebb’s best records to date. While it can’t top their earlier records in terms of originality and innovation, it can certainly hold its own against them when it comes quality. In fact, some of the tracks on Industrial Complex, such as the killer opener “Promises,” and the eerie ballad “Going Away from Me,” might be some of the best tracks the group has ever released.

Many of the best tracks on Industrial Complex owe themselves to the suddenly powerful vocals of Douglas McCarthy, who spent much of the ’80s and ’90s growling and yelling through the band’s best tracks. Here, he’s actually singing, and singing damn well at that. But fans of the ridiculous shouting matches of Nitzer Ebb old like “Join in the Chant” shouldn’t be too worried; McCarthy still howls his head off a couple times on Industrial Complex, like on “Payroll,” a sick and sleazy track that combines not-too-subtle metaphors about sucking with aggressive dance beats and a hard house sound ripe for remixing.

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting more Nitzer Ebb since their breakup in the ’90s, then your wait was well worth it with Industrial Complex. And if you’ve never heard the group before, then this is a shockingly great jumping-on point. (Artists’ Addiction Records 2010)

Click here for a free download of Nitzer Ebb’s “Promises”
Nitzer Ebb MySpace page

Steal This Song: Nitzer Ebb, “Promises”

This is one of those moments where we cannot help but think that everything is connected. Earlier this year we got our hands on Selected, a compilation of songs from onetime Depeche Mode sonic architect Alan Wilder’s new band Recoil, and on it is a little tune called “Faith Healer,” featuring vocals from Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy. It’s a great tune, and McCarthy turns in a rather impressive vocal performance for a guy who’s spent most of his career yelling. Even better, the release of this album allowed us to score an interview with Wilder (huge, huge thrill), where Wilder delivered perhaps the funniest, most understated comment about Nitzer Ebb that one could possibly dream up: “I guess Nitzer Ebb are lacking a lot of melodic content, you could say.”

Even stranger, when we spoke with Fratellis lead singer Jon Fratelli earlier in the year and asked him who he considered to be the most unheralded artist from his native Scotland, he nominated the Sensational Alex Harvey Band…the guy who wrote “Faith Healer.” Like we said, everything’s connected.

Nitzer_Ebb_01

Anyway, Wilder mentioned that he had recently remixed a Nitzer Ebb track – one with melodic content, we’re assuming – and it hadn’t even occurred to us that the band hadn’t made a record in 15 years, so him mixing Nitzer Ebb was kind of a big deal. The record is now here (Industrial Complex, due out November 9), and the first song, “Promises,” will produce involuntary goosebumps in anyone who trolled the alt-rock clubs when That Total Age was first released. The keyboard track immediately brings “Murderous” to mind but, perhaps remembering how well the “Faith Healer” cover worked, McCarthy opts for actual singing instead of his trademark yelling, and in the process fixes the one thing that ultimately kept us from listening to the band for more than 10 minutes in a row. Oh man, is this a sweet surprise.

Click to download Nitzer Ebb – Promises

Ministry: Every Day Is Halloween: Greatest Tricks


RIYL: Drowning puppies

Al Jourgensen is a liar, an asshole, and a washed-up, no-talent hack.

He’s a liar because even though he said he was breaking up Ministry in 2008, after the release of The Last Sucker and the covers compilation Cover Up, here he is with a “new” album. He’s an asshole because the said “new” album is nothing more than a hastily thrown together hodgepodge of lazy covers and re-recorded versions of Ministry songs. And he’s a washed-up, no-talent hack because it all sounds like shit, the obvious work of a lazy pig who hates his fans, throwing together a collection of compost just for a quick paycheck.

The covers on Every Day Is Halloween: Greatest Tricks are atrocious. While the covers on Cover Up took elements of the originals and incorporated them into an industrial sound, here Al just grabs some classic rock tunes (and Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”), throws some distorted guitars over them, cranks the drum machine to 11 and calls it a day. The cover of “Strangehold” sounds like the cover of “Iron Man” that sounds like the cover of “Paint It Black” that sounds like a pile of dogshit. He even manages to ruin “Thunderstruck,” which is pretty damn impressive if you think about it.

Even worse are the re-recorded tracks. New versions of “N.W.O.” “Stigmata,” “Every Day Is Halloween” and the other unfortunate Ministry classics that are assassinated here either sound too similar to the old versions, or radically different in all the wrong ways. What’s most noticeable on all of them is that Al can no longer sing, scream, howl or growl with any kind of intensity. Either that or he just doesn’t give a shit about Ministry anymore. And I’m right there with him. (Cleopatra Records 2010)

Ministry MySpace Page

Combichrist: Making Monsters


RIYH (Recommended If You Hate): Your history teacher, riding the bus to school, cleaning your room

Combichrist are angry! And mean! And scary! And other stuff that will hopefully scare parents and encourage misguided 14-year-olds who want to rebel by going to Hot Topic to buy their records.

The creation of Norwegian musician Andy LaPlegua, Combichrist has been around since 2003. Previous uplifting and inspirational efforts by LaPlegua and crew include The Joy of Gunz, Everybody Hates You and What The Fuck Is Wrong with You People?

Their sound could be be described as “Head Like a Hole” meets “Beautiful People” meets the entire hard house dance movement. Aggressive beats meets aggressive lyrics meets aggressive synths. It’s all just so…aggressive. So much so some call the genre of music aggrotech. But don’t do that – you don’t want to encourage that kind of rampant portmanteauing. If you’re over 20 and take this stuff seriously,then a) you’ll love this record, and b) there’s no helping you. If you find needlessly misanthropic song titles like “Throat Full of Glass” and “Through These Eyes of Pain” hysterical and want to know just how many times LaPlegua can call the object of his affection a slut on “Fuckmachine,” then you might find some humor in Making Monsters, and the music, while a little overbearing at times, is good in a “I need help to stay awake/hate humanity” kind of way.

Just give your mom a hug, or pet some kittens, after listening. (Metropolis Records 2010)

Combichrist MySpace Page

Filter: The Trouble with Angels


RIYL: Nine Inch Nails, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice Cooper’s Brutal Planet and Dragontown

Filter is Richard Patrick. It’s his toy and he is going to steer it, hire the rest of the band and collaborate with who he thinks will make the best record. Mind you, it is going to sound like a Filter record. There will be those trademark Patrick screams contrasted against his solid singing voice; there will be crunchy industrial guitar riffs, chugging bass lines, at least one ballad and Patrick will be wrestling lyrically with subjects like addiction and the ills of organized religion. For The Trouble with Angels, Patrick works with Bob Marlette (Iommi, Alice Cooper, Atreyu among others) to re-sharpen the fangs of Filter. Marlette produces and engineers the record while co-writing nine of the ten songs.

Consistently, this is a heavier effort throughout the 41 minutes then the last several records and is much more akin to the debut Filter release, Short Bus then anything released since. Interestingly enough, Patrick brings back original Filter co-conspirator Brian Liesagang (who left the band in 1997) to add “Sound Design and Programming” to the project. The first three tracks (“The Inevitable Relapse,” “Drug Boy,” and “Absentee Father”) roll over you like a locomotive. Patrick’s intentions are loud and clear. The fourth track, “No Love,” slows the train down but features a thumping chorus and Patrick singing at the edge of his range.

There are two songs where things slow down and the record produces “Take a Picture”-like moments with the ballads “No Re-entry” and the gorgeous album closer “Fades Like a Photograph (Dead Angel).” The latter features some of Patrick’s most poetic and moving lyrics to date. Other than those two songs, Marlette is inspiring Patrick to be heavy. Marlette got great work out of Alice Cooper on Dragontown and Brutal Planet, moving Alice into industrial metal territory for two records. Here he gets a good record out of Patrick’, who has been busy the last couple of years re-energizing the brand name. Filter has released two albums, a greatest hits package and a remix album of 2008′s Anthems for the Damned in the last four years. Sobriety has treated Richard Patrick well and his fans have reaped the rewards of his re-energized work ethic. (Rocket Science Ventures, 2010)

Filter MySpace page

Me, Myself, and iPod 7/28/10: Bayside High stole my record collection

esd ipod

Have a ton of stuff to do before heading off to Lolla next week, so this will be a short one.

Pete Yorn – Precious Stone
New track from Pete’s upcoming, Frank Black-produced album Self Titled. Sounds like Pete, but rawer, which is just what I was expecting.

Ex Norwegian – Jet Lag
Having reached out to me on MySpace a while back, these guys are quickly becoming a favorite around these parts. At the risk of tagging them as a throwback band – to the ’90s, no less – their sound is definitely not of this time. Big, ringing choruses, slightly dirty bass lines, horn-kissed verses…this would have been a #1 modern rock hit in 1995.

White Car – No Better
Holy Wax Trax, Batman. This Chicago industrial outfit has just made a track that will have fans of “Everyday Is Halloween” running for their Doc Martens.

Team Bayside High – No Sleeves Attached DJ Mix
In truth, this is not the most mind-blowing DJ mix you’ve ever heard. In fact, it’s pretty raw and basic, and when the drums kick in at the end of “Song 2,” I couldn’t help but wince a little. But I like their choice of songs, since they spend most of the time mixing rock songs, and I like the melding of rock and dance. Putting “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in here was a stretch (they had to speed it up to the point where it sounds unnatural), but we’ll still check out their DJ set at Lolla, schedule permitting.

Rob Zombie: Hellbilly Deluxe 2


RIYL: Rob Zombie, White Zombie…other zombie related culture

Rob Zombie’s 2006 album Educated Horses was a shocking departure for the shock rocker where he dropped the industrial dance beats and heavy production in lieu of classic rock riffs and heavy metal grooves. It was mature, experimental and a brave move for the man who hadn’t really advanced his musical style since 1992.

Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is not a brave move. Coming 12 years after the original Hellbilly Deluxe, this album finds Rob Zombie forcefully stripping away every development and evolution in his sound to deliver an album that is intentionally uninspired and derivative, but is that a bad thing? Because even though Educated Horses was a bold move for Zombie and it showed he could do more than he did in the past; the brand of rock he first showed us with “Thunder Kiss ’65″ is still the what he does best. And while nothing here is original, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun. The industrial beats and distorted guitars that worked in 1998 on tracks like “Dragula” and “Superbeast” still work fine on “Dream Factory” and “Werewolf Women of the SS” (the latter of which named after Zombie’s mock trailer for “Grindhouse”). About the only thing that doesn’t work on this belated sequel is the closing “The Man Who Laughs,” which is a bloated overblown production complete with string arrangements by film composer Tyler Bates and a (very) extended drum solo. Prog rock excess does not belong on a Rob Zombie record.

There are artists who change and evolve their sound over time (REM, U2), and there are artists who discover that they are only really good at one thing early in their career and they stick to it, prevailing cultural winds be damned (Motorhead, AC/DC). It’s becoming apparent that Zombie is more than happy to be in the latter group, and Rob Zombie sounding like Rob Zombie for 20 more years is preferable to someone else trying to instead. (Road Runner 2010)

Rob Zombie MySpace Page

Nine Inch Nails: Another Version of the Truth


RIYL: Ministry, Gary Numan, free stuff you can watch on YouTube

If you want some good weed and some killer tie-dye shirts, you talk to Grateful Dead fans, but if you want state of the art A/V work (and maybe some anti-depressants), you go to Nine Inch Nails fans. Last year Trent Reznor let over 400 GB of HD footage from his Lights in the Sky tour “leak” onto torrent sites, apparently after he was unable to release an official DVD with the footage. Over the past year, various NIN fans around the world have been working on the footage, editing, color-correcting and even subtitling it for an “unofficial” release over the internet. That release, dubbed “Another Version of the Truth” finally made its way online, and it was definitely worth the wait.

The Lights in the Sky tour was Nine Inch Nails’ most ambitious yet, a choreographed spectacle that lived up to its name, thanks to multiple LED screens and some of the brightest flood lights you’ll ever be blinded by. Matching the brilliant visuals was the one of Nine Inch Nails most varied set lists to date, incorporating everything from Pretty Hate Machine to The Slip, even including a surprising amount of material from the instrumental Ghosts I-IV. It was a great show – you had to be there. But if you weren’t, this DVD comes damn close to recreating the experience. The footage is edited together great, the cuts are fast when they need to be, but more often than not the edits are lax, letting us take in the performance without added distractions. Which is good, because Trent and company were on fire for this tour. For both the quiet numbers, like the material from Ghosts, or for loud boisterous explosions of noise like “Wish,” the group is tighter than ever, and their performance are made all the more impressive by the revolutionary A/V spectacle that surrounds them (literally, they had a lot of LCD screens out there). Highlights of this include “Closer,” where Trent sings directly into a camera that projects his face across the screen behind them, distorted by the soundwaves of the music, and “The Warning,” where bright displays turn the band into silhouettes.

“Another Version of the Truth” is available online for free here in a multitude of formats, including one that you can burn to a Dual Layer DVD. A Blu-Ray is apparently coming soon. No matter what format you choose however, this is a must-own for NIN fans, and the price sure as hell is right.

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