My Top 100 Songs: 80-71

80. 1985 – Bowling For Soup

Bowling For Soup have always been an insanely catchy band, but this catches them at their very best. It is important to note that this is not exactly their song, as it was originally written by a band called SR-71, but in this version, the loud guitars were toned down a little, and a great guitar riff was added. It’s an example of how to cover a song perfectly.

Find it on: A Hangover You Don’t Deserve (2004)

79. Pretty Little Distance – As It Is

From one piece of pop-punk perfection to another, this perfectly encapsulates what As It Is are all about. Excellent vocals and a catchy chorus mix together to make a song that I’ve been singing ever since I first heard it.

Find it on: okay. (2017)

78. Hoodwinker – Enter Shikari

Rou Reynolds’ voice is powerful, and this song is a perfect demonstration of it. He both screams and sings on this song, and sounds just as good while doing both. Coupled with the incredible guitar work, this song really packs a punch.

Find it on: N/A (This was released as a single on its own)

77. Reckless – You Me At Six

There is really nothing more to this than the fact that it’s a really fun, well made pop-punk song. The chorus is catchy, the guitar riff is great, and the song as a whole is pretty flawless. It’s just a lot of good fun.

Find it on: Sinners Never Sleep (2011)

76. State Of The Union – Rise Against

If ‘Hoodwinker’ turns things up to a ten, then this song turns then all the way up to an eleven. This is probably the most intense song Rise Against have ever written, and is a scathing critique of America under George Bush. I’d like to say that things have got better since then, but all you need to do is look at the news to realise it’s not.

Find it on: Siren Song Of The Counter Culture (2004)

75. Dosed – Red Hot Chili Peppers

This song is a true masterpiece; the Kiedis vocals and Frusciante’s guitar work blend together to create a truly beautiful song. But not only is it beautiful, it is truly heartfelt, with some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ best ever vocals.

Find it on: By The Way (2002)

74. Diamond Eyes [Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom] – Shinedown

Shinedown have written some great hard rock songs in their time as a band, but for me this rises above all of them. The mix of soft guitar in the intro going into a great guitar riff and shouted vocals works perfectly, and the chorus sound as epic as anything they have ever written.

Find it on: The Sound Of Madness (2008)

73. All You Are Is History – State Champs

State Champs are yet another one of the fantastic up-and-coming pop-punk bands at the moment, and this song is great proof. Often overlooked because of other hit single, ‘Secrets’, I feel that this song is a gem. It has everything a pop-punk song needs and more.

Find it on: Around The World And Back (2015)

72. Witchcraft – Pendulum

This may seem like a bit of a strange choice considering all of the other music I’m into, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less. The mix of guitar, a catchy hook, and intense electronic elements makes this a perfect song for me.

Find it on: Immersion (2010)

71. In My Mind – The Amazons

I fell in love when I saw this song live. I’d already heard it, but never fully taken it in before then. The power of the guitar and the great vocals of the chorus really hit me then, and I’ve never stopped listening to it since.

Find it on: The Amazons (2017)

Tune in in a couple of weeks for songs 70 – 61!

Advertisements

Classic Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers – By The Way

The Red Hot Chili Peppers released what many people considered to be their best ever album in 1999. Californication was a hit that propelled the band into the forefront of the rock world with a great set of catchy songs, defined by the energy of frontman Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea. But how would they follow up this album’s success? They could, of course, release an album of similarly-styled songs to capitalise on the previous album’s popularity. Or maybe make an album of even more easily-accessible songs to push themselves even further into the mainstream. What they ended doing was a change of style, but it was neither of those things. By The Way was a rock revolution.

This album opted for a more melodic sound than the previous album, being led by the beautiful guitar melodies of John Frusciante rather than the energetic bass of Flea. With the exception of a few songs, the songs were a lot slower and focused more on creating a fuller, more beautiful sound. But this wasn’t giving up on their old sound; it was more an evolution of sorts. Each song was masterfully crafted and showed some of vocalist Anthony Kiedis’ best ever lyrics, particularly in ‘Dosed’, a sombre but beautiful ode to Hillel Slovak, the original guitarist of the band, who sadly passed away in 1988 due to drug problems. But not only are the lyrics extremely heartfelt, the guitar in this song is a lesson to anyone who wants to layer several guitar tracks.

While ‘Dosed’ was an evolution for the band, they definitely had callbacks to their older songs, in the form of bass-driven ‘Throw Away Your Television’, and the anthemic ‘Can’t Stop’. Flea leads both of these songs perfectly, using his bass to drive the songs along. He is ever-present in the album, but these represent some of his best work. Songs like these are rare however, giving way to slow ballads and more experimental work. Of this experimental work, ‘On Mercury’ deserves a lot of praise for the inclusion of new instruments, such as the trumpet. It is wonderfully catchy too. Of the slower songs, particularly ‘The Zephyr Song’ and ‘Don’t Forget Me’ stand out. The former experiments with electronic drum sounds to great effect, whereas the latter has the prefect blend of guitar and bass to make it stand out hugely.

To conclude, this blend of material perfectly typified the album. This album was a diverse but perfect departure from Californication that showed the bands ability to make more than just their original brand of funk rock. They pushed themselves even further than they ever had before, and came out with one of the best albums of their long and illustrious career. Whatever type of music you’re into, this album is something you have to listen to.

Best song: Dosed

Score: 10/10

4 Musicians Who Have Influenced Or Inspired Me

When you like music as much as I do, many of your role models and inspirations will be musicians. And whether it’s through their music or not, they will have some sort of impact on your life. This could be an effect on the way you play music, the way you appreciate music, or it could be completely non-music related. I have found that this is definitely the case for me, and although I have loads of role models across the music world, I have found that four of them have influenced me the most.

1. John Frusciante – Red Hot Chili Peppers

I first properly got into the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was around 14, although I had been listening to them for much longer than that. This was around the time I started playing the guitar. At that time I would be obsessed with getting a song right, and I’d always have my guitar with me, whether I was watching TV, on my laptop, or just about anything else really. I would go over the same tracks over and over, trying to play them as perfectly as I could. But even when I had every note in the perfect place, there was still something missing. This was when I started to look at Frusciante’s playing. He was an incredible guitarist, but technically, he wasn’t among the best of the best. The thing that made him stand out was the sheer emotion he put into how he played. And it made me realise – some music is nothing without emotion. When I started to factor this into my playing, I improved more than I ever had before.

2. Ludovico Einaudi

Around when I was 15-16, I pretty much exclusively listened to rock music. I was convinced that every other genre was inferior for some reason or another, and wouldn’t listen to anyone trying to convince me otherwise. But one day, my piano teacher handed me a piece to learn, entitled I Giorni by Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi. I begrudgingly went home to try and learn it, working day after day to try and perfect it. But when I was done I noticed something – I loved the piece! There was something about it that relaxed me, and made me happy. Through that, I discovered so many more pianists that I still love to this day. And through that I slowly began to let myself listen to more and more genres, slowly branching out from rock music into the tastes I have today. Rock music still remains my favourite genre, but to claim that it is the only decent genre is just ignorant.

3. Tim McIlrath – Rise Against

College was when I first discovered alcohol. I was initially not keen on it, and after a bit of peer pressure and several terrible attempts at drinking to fit in, that sense of unease never left me. I have absolutely nothing against alcohol or anyone who drinks it, and I actually had a lot of fun and good memories with my friends at the parties when I was surrounded by it, but personally it was never for me. The thing was, I actually felt a little guilty and weird for not drinking and fitting in. This was when I found out a little more about Tim McIlrath, from my favourite band – Rise Against. Tim is straight edge, which means that he doesn’t drink alcohol, smoke, or take any drugs – which I completely identified with. Through him, I found other musicians that followed the same beliefs, including but not limited to Hayley Williams, Patty Walters and Andy Hurley. The fact that so many of my idols and influences followed this set of beliefs helped showed me that I wasn’t weird, or wrong for not wanting to drink, and this made university a much easier experience.

4. Rou Reynolds – Enter Shikari

Finally, I have Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari, a band that I only got into a couple of years ago, but quickly became one of my favourite bands. Enter Shikari have never been a band that’s been afraid to show their political views, just look at their twitter feed to see that. But before recently I had never really had an interest in politics, despite the fact that it should have been incredibly important to me as a student. But after hearing Rou speak out about the injustices of UK politics through his music and social media, I began to take an interest, so much so that I am now part of a student radio news show that talks about politics quite a bit. Through this, I can stand up for my views and other people’s, and I am not afraid to speak my mind and make a difference.

My Top 20 Albums: 10-1

Continuing on from my first post on this topic, here are my top 10 albums of all time. These all come as massive recommendations from me, and I think you should listen to all of them:

10. The Killers – Sam’s Town

The Killers were one of the first bands I ever got into after finding ‘When You Were Young’ on a Guitar Hero game. The song was great, and I spent ages listening to it as I played video games as a kid. From this I went on to listen to the full album, and what a treat it was. Not a single song was out of place, and even though Hot Fuss is the fan favourite album, I still prefer this one.

9. Sum 41 – Does This Look Infected

I first got into Sum 41 with All Killer, No Filler. After a while of listening to it though, I desired something new, which lead to me buying this album. It contained a whole new catalogue of songs, even angrier and better than the last album. After this I bought many more Sum 41 albums, and while they were all great, none could live up to this.

8. Brand New – Deja Entendu

What an album this is! I love that it takes the concept of a rock album, and all the usual topics talked about, and turns them on their heads. Each song is a masterpiece in its own right, and this album defines emo as a genre.

7. Muse – Black Holes And Revelations

Muse have many great albums, but this will always have a special place in my heart. I feel like it encompasses some of their best work, and is one of the very few albums that I enjoy every song on. Matt Bellamy is truly in his prime on this one.

6. My Chemical Romance – Danger Days

To most MCR fans, this will come as a massive surprise. The Black Parade is widely considered their best work, closely followed by Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, but I prefer their final effort. Why? I feel like it just works. Don’t get me wrong, I love their other work, but there is something about this album that just clicks with me. It is catchy, upbeat, infectious, and I love it.

5. Panic! At The Disco – Vices And Virtues

Again, this is one of the few albums I love all of the songs from. Every song is just everything I expect from a Panic! song. There are fast songs, slow songs, catchy songs, emotional songs, just about everything on this album. And I feel like everything really does work.

4. Royal Republic – Weekend Man

This is probably the most recent release on this list, but as the years go by I know I won’t love this album any less. It is undoubtedly the catchiest album I have ever heard, and I’m shocked that this band aren’t more popular than they are. I recommend this album to anyone and everyone, as it showcases rock music at its best.

3. Twenty One Pilots – Vessel

This should be less surprising, as I’m sure most Twenty One Pilots fans would list this as one of their favourite albums. But there is reason behind that. This album is one of the most diverse but coherent albums I have ever listened to, and it cover a range of meaningful topics cleverly and insightfully. An essential listen for anyone.

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium

If you want my extended thoughts on this album, you can check out my classic album review on it, but in short, this album is almost perfect. It combines so many styles and different sounds into 28 songs that are all wonderful in their own right. You’d struggle to find a better album anywhere.

1. Rise Against – The Sufferer And The Witness

Is it any surprise that a Rise Against album takes the top spot. I’ve never really kept my love for this group a secret, and I feel like this album is the best of their work. It is the perfect middle ground between their newer, more melodic work and their angry punk roots. Every song is incredible, and just listening to it makes me want to start my own revolution. Because not only is this album great musically, it is meaningful too, standing up against many wrongdoings in the word. It is the perfect package, and I love it!

Classic Album Review: Stadium Arcadium – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Stadium Arcadium is eleven years old this month! That’s eleven years of ‘Dani California’, ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’, ‘Tell Me Baby’ and countless other songs that, if I’m honest, have seemed to be around forever. It has been just over a decade, and this album already feels like a timeless classic, and that’s why I’m reviewing it today.

Now, if you know me, you’ll know I’m not a fan of double albums, let alone ones as long as this. There’s over two hours worth of music across this album, and normally, I’d hate that. I’m all for having short, sweet albums without dragging it out too much. But this album is the one exception to all of this- every song is just too good to leave out! This was John Frusciante’s last work as part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and boy did he leave a legacy with this album. It includes his whole range of guitar playing skills from the smooth acoustic tones of ‘Slow Cheetah’ to the fiery energy of ‘So Much I’, not to mention what I believe could be his best work ever, the 5-minute guitar masterclass that is ‘Wet Sand’, showcasing all he has to offer. Chad Smith was also on his usual form on this record, highlighted in particular in a fabulous drum solo in ‘Hump De Bump’. The vocals were also a high point, with Anthony Kiedis going back some of his rap-rock roots in songs like ‘Tell Me Baby’, while hitting new melodic highs in ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’. And last of all, Flea. I can’t even pick out a selection of songs for him, because his bass work is so strong throughout the whole album that picking favourites would seem unfair. I’ve mentioned so many songs already but I also have to mention the stellar ’21st Century’, ‘Readymade’, and ‘Death of a Martian’, just for the final monologue that still leaves hair standing up on my back.

In conclusion, this is an incredible album. This may be a controversial opinion, but I believe it is the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ best work to date, drawing on influences from all over their careers to create a true masterpiece of an album. If you haven’t listened to it yet, what are you waiting for?!

Best Song: Wet Sand

Score: 10/10

My Top 10 Artists

As my first opinionated piece, I think I’d take the time to introduce my music tastes, as they are the main things that will be on show throughout my time writing this blog. I’ve definitely mentioned that I’m mainly into rock music, but let’s take this opportunity to look deeper into that, and see what my favourite bands within the scene are.

Honourable Mentions:

First off we have some bands that just didn’t make the cut. I love all of these bands very much, but for some reason or another, they didn’t quite make it into my top 10. That isn’t to say they’re not very good, but there are a lot of good bands out there. They are:

  • AFI
  • All Time Low
  • Avenged Sevenfold
  • Blink-182
  • A Day To Remember
  • Fall Out Boy
  • Halestorm
  • The Killers
  • Neck Deep
  • Panic! At The Disco

Now into the actual countdown:

10. My Chemical Romance

What sort of 90’s kid would I be if I didn’t mention these at some point?! I did discover these later than most; just after they broke up, to be exact, but their music captivated me from the first listen. Whether it was the raw punk of their debut, to the melodic pop-rock of their final album, Gerard and Co. found a way to pull it off, and I truly believe that every album they have produced is a masterpiece – even 2010’s criminally underrated Danger Days.

9. Sum 41

Some people might consider this a guilty pleasure, but there’s nothing guilty about it in my mind. Sum 41 have been creating top-quality pop-punk for a long time now, and even though their new album wasn’t quite as good as it could have been, the quality of their music still stands up today.

8. Green Day

Now who doesn’t love a good bit of Green Day? The grandfathers of modern punk have been around for a good 30 years now, and 12 albums down the line, they’re still as good as ever. Not only this but their political activism is still causing a stir in America today. My opinion of a good political band is one that refuses to sit back and do nothing, and Green Day are exactly that.

7. Royal Republic

Royal Republic are a small band from Malmö, Sweden, that specialise in making energetic, fast-paced rock. I had never heard of them when a friend recommended them to me, but I was hooked from the first listen and have never looked back. Their addictive brand of rock is honestly one of the most catchy things I’ve heard in my life.

6. Muse

If I was writing this post a few years ago, Muse would have topped this list by a long way, and it is only due to my tastes changing a little that they miss out. Not to say that I dislike them now; quite the opposite. Matt Bellamy’s mastery of his voice is impressive on its own, not to mention his ability on the guitar and piano. And that is before you take into account what wonderful musicians Dom Howard and Chris Wolstenholme are. Muse are an incredible band who make great music, and are fully deserving of this place in the list.

5. Enter Shikari

So what can I say about Enter Shikari apart from the fact that they’re the most innovative, creative band on this list. For the past few years they have been pushing the boundaries of rock music, and redefining the genre. They truly are an incredible, inspiring band.

4. As It Is

As It Is will always hold a special place in my heart, because even before they were releasing their own captivating brand of pop-punk, I was watching lead singer Patty Walters flourish on YouTube, where he was creating his own great cover songs. I remember thinking at some point that he had more than enough talent to make it in the music industry, and turns out I was right. As It Is bring energy, melody and catchiness to the pop-punk scene, and I think they’re truly one of the better bands in the rock world.

3. Twenty One Pilots

And so the first (and only) non-rock band pop up in this list. Twenty One Pilots break the boundaries of genre, creating their own music regardless of anyone’s expectations, and I have huge respect for them for that. Not to mention that the music they do make is catchy, inventive, and packed full of meaning. Twenty One Pilots have captured a generation of music fans, and rightly so.

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers

The oldest band on this list, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been making music for a good 34 years now, and have somehow managed to keep the quality up all the way along. The band have gone through countless line-up and style changes, but throughout all of this, they have still retained the soul that their music has always had. They are well deserving of this number two spot as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

1. Rise Against

What can I say about Rise Against? They are one of the most outspokenly political bands I have ever listened to, and they have found a way to mix that with angry but catchy punk rock. Each new song is a masterpiece in its own right, and a kick in the teeth to whatever injustice they are fighting this time. They are not only deserving of number one in this list, but to be remembered as one of the great punk bands of this generation.