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All posts for the month September, 2012

Andy Morin, Zach Hill and Stefan Burnett of Death Grips perform at The Glass House in Pomona, California. Photo courtesy of RollingStone.com.

By: Rick Polo, Editor-in-Chief

Shockwaves were sent through the underground music world when it was revealed last February that the experimental industrial/hip-hop group, Death Grips, had signed to one of the last remaining major labels, Sony Music.

It’s no shock to see a hip-hop artist get that kind of recognition nowadays, being that hip-hop and rap are primarily what makes up most mainstream top 40 radio and TV formats.

However, Death Grips are not your typical hip-hop.

They may take many notes from the books of the old school, rapping often angry, politically charged lyrics over a bass-heavy sampled beat. Where they differ from the majority of today’s modern mainstream hip-hop would be instead of bland, cookie-cutter repeated themes of excess, they tell beautifully memorizing urban tales reflecting the real world, and just how fucked up it can be.

Death Grips consists of vocalist Stefan “MC Ride” Burnett, drummer Zach Hill and keyboardist/sampler Andy “Flatlander” Morin. They formed in late 2010, releasing their debut mixtape, Ex-Military. The bold collection of tracks featured samples from many underground rock acts. The opening track “Beware” features a mash-up of samples from Charles Manson and Jane’s Addiction. On another track, “Klink,” they sample the ferocious riff from Black Flag’s “Rise Above.” The mixtape earned Death Grips enough attention from the right people, including Sony records.

In April of 2012, they released the first of two albums that they’ll release this year, The Money Store. The album was a continuation of what Ex-Military had to offer, but going deeper and darker. The first single, “I’ve Seen Footage,” sampled over Salt N’ Pepa’s “Push It” surprisingly enough, is possibly the darkest track on the album, providing insight on some of the dark times MC Ride has witnessed throughout his life.

The album as a whole struck a chord with an underground/indie hip-hop and rock audience, helping Death Grips break down genre walls and reach a broader audience. By doing so, they’re doing what not many, if any, new artists have managed to do in recent years; something innovative and fresh.

Death Grips are set to release their second album of the year for Sony Music, No Love Deep Web later this Fall. A B-side from The Money Store titled “@DeathGripz” (also their Twitter name), was recently released through Adult Swim as a promo track. It’s rumored that the new album will feature all live instrumentation. The group is continuing to expand their sound and fan base, and if this album delivers as it’s expected to, it will likely come full circle.

For the first time in what seems well over a decade, an artist has broke through with sincerity and might, providing that when properly executed, music can be as innovative and original as its creators’ imaginations allow. And as they continue to boil just beneath the surface of the mainstream, it’s no doubt that Death Grips will continue to make their unique mark on a dull musical landscape.

By: Jay Evans, Journalism Major at Youngstown State University

Dear Mr. Cash,

It seems that life just isn’t the same without you. I’ve grown used to your words and voice on a regular basis. Without them, life is just too hard to live.

The state of music frightens me, just like the cloud of life that is ready to explode at any given moment. Language is a very important key to an easier life; some people just don’t understand that. No one speaks to me the way you do, and no one probably ever will. Although lessons learned in life come from many different sources, the lessons I learned from your voice I feel are some of the most important.

You get it Mr. Cash, and you always have. You understood long ago, and you also understood that people aren’t perfect, and not to judge and point the finger. None of my heroes are perfect, most of them have been in jail, drug addicts, authors, lyricists, cocky, and misunderstood. It’s just the way it is, and it’s nothing I can explain. I gain confidence in the fact, that most of my idols have faults. It’s more relatable.

My life without you is sometimes misdirected and confused, I find myself asking questions and pondering life decisions. Direction is often sideways, rarely forward, and sometimes backwards.

Everything I learn in life, whether it be from college, reading, or experiences, sometimes those things just don’t teach me enough. See, Mr. Cash, its your life and music that always seem to help me when I just can’t focus. When I feel like everything falls apart, and there’s no way out, because I’ve been dealing with this a lot lately. No one seems to get it, my parents, family, friends, but you would. You would understand and probably offer advice no one could. The answers can seem simple, but it’s never that easy. If life was that easy, and things were sunshine and rainbows all the time, I wonder if I would of looked for your guidance.

I use lessons I learned from you in day to day life, parenting, focus, how to keep pushing forward, no matter what the problem. I maintain being myself; I have my own mind, and my own soul. No one should try to be someone else. There’s too much of that going on in today’s world. But I use your example as a template to keep my head up. When you’re around, life is a little more clear and just a little more livable.

When you speak, it makes it very clear that if anyone needs an explanation from me, they’ll probably never understand me. So I’m sick of wasting my time.

Life seems to be a constant battle to gain something back, not to get more. That’s the problem. Sure, it sets goals, other times it’s just a complete disaster.

I hope to teach my children lessons no one can ever teach them. I give them the gift of music constantly, because it’s important to me. I hope they find their path early, and don’t struggle as much as their father. Theirs still time for me, I can still make it. One thing I hate, is watching and listening to people who have my dream job, knowing I could do it ten times better. I suffered enough.

I really don’t give a shit about a balanced budget or global warming. I could care less about higher or lower taxes. Its all the same, everyone has solutions in life, and no one is getting anything done. Not just in the world, but around me as well.

I’m still tired, I’m still hungry, and I’m still lost. When I fix that, maybe I can help the state of the world, and laugh at the people who never believed in me. Until then Mr. Cash, I have you.

I never pretended to be something I wasn’t. I never will. All I can do is wake up, be me, learn, and know that you’re always around when I need you.

 

Your Friend,

Jay

Sculpture created by Adams, made using pre-existing materials that he combined to create a truly innovative peice.

Artist Aaron Adams, standing under one of his sculptures made entirely out of salvaged scrap metal and raw materials.

Featured Artist of the Month: Aaron Adams

As one of Ohio’s innovative urban artists, Aaron Adams focuses on using raw materials and scrap metal to create visionary works of art. Adams stated that art always had a big part in his life and he was influenced by family members in his early years to pursue his passions.

“My grandmother was a very talented painter,” said Adams. “She used to give me ‘Homework’ assignments as a young child such as drawing animals out of a book, or sketching a still life, and she would set it up using items from around her house.”

His grandfather was also a seasoned stone artist; cutting and shaping stones that he would make into jewelry. With two very skilled artists in his life, as well as supportive parents, Aaron was able to follow his dreams and attend Antioch College from 1998-2002, where he majored in Visual Arts, with a concentration on sculpture.

“I had the opportunity to study under some amazing professors who taught me how to work with a wide variety of materials,” said Adams.

After college, Aaron worked with artists in Maine and Austin, Texas, where he gained further experience in his craft. He currently resides in Columbus, Ohio, working out of a studio in Newark, Ohio.

“I enjoy bringing ‘new life’ to the old rusty discarded pieces I’ve found, and I like the eco-friendly aspect of working with recycled materials” concluded Adams, which speaks profoundly in his work with the level of expertise he puts forth to bring his contemporary art to life.

-Miranda Tusinac, Co-Editor-in-Chief

 

 

 

By: Patrick Antenucci

Anthropology Major and Creative Writing Minor

at Yougstown State University

A man lies in a cell

An unmoving shell

Is he alive? or has he died?

Eyes staring tired and dried

Above him begins to descend a drop

A trickling tear from the top

Drip

A man lies in a cell

He quivers with rage

Echos yell

Shackles engage

White turned red then red turned white

Skin rubbed raw on anger built might

Flesh torn asunder

Voice booms coarse thunder

caged

raged

White glib bone in sight-

Drip

A man lies in a cell

He shivers with fear

Horror beyond tell

Moans only stones can hear

Tremble and shudder

Whispers for mother

Pleads on high

And when rejected

forgotten

becomes rotten

Calls to the Other side-

Drip

A man lies in a cell

His smile is plastic and pained

His giggles swell

As his lips strain

He cannot start, he cannot stop

No mind to fight battles needed to be fought

hysterical laughter

screeching faster

sides burst

lungs thirst

Tears of laughter are tears for the worse-

 

Drip

A man lies in a cell

An unmoving shell

Is he alive? or has he died?

Eyes staring tired and dried

Above him begins to descend a drop

A trickling tear from the top

Drip

By: Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Artist: White Cadillac

Album: Classy Ride for Sleazy People

Release Date: 5/12/12

Rating: 4.7/5

Imagine, if you will, that you’re speeding down the highway; top down and cranking the stereo at a blistering decibel. With your woman by your side and a case of brews in the back, you don’t exactly know where you’re going but you know you’re on the ride of your life. And you don’t want it to stop!

That’s about the most concise summation of the material heard on Classy Ride for Sleazy People, the sophomore album from Youngstown’s raunchy rockers, White Cadillac. With tongue-in-cheek themes, adrenaline pumping grooves and blistering riffs, this new disc picks up right where the group’s last effort, 2010’s Casualty of the City, left off.

“I feel that if this album doesn’t get us some traction, I don’t know what will,” said lead singer and guitarist Adam May. “This is the album where I’m scared it’s going to be tough to top. I think we topped the first one, but this new one is pretty balls out.”

“Of all the things I’ve been a part of, this album is probably what I’m most proud of,” added drummer Fred Whitacre.

Formed in the December of 2009, White Cadillac is a SteelValley supergroup of sorts, with all three of its members hailing from successful projects. Whitacre has been slamming the kit for stompcore legends Kitchen Knife Conspiracy since the late 90s. Bassist B.J. Lisko is the frontman and lead guitarist of The Turbo Lovers and May has been the mastermind behind Groove Conductor, among other projects.

Despite such diverse musical backgrounds, the members align like planets in White Cadillac.

“We were all from different projects,” said May, “and the first time we jammed together in B.J.’s basement it was like, ‘what are we going to jam on?’ So he and I busted out some stuff we already knew [from a previous project] and then some songs evolved. But this time around it was definitely really more of a collaborative effort and the songs have a different feel. I don’t think it was intentional, we’re just evolving naturally.”

“I think we were going to make songs that were straight-forward, concise, heavy and catchy,” added Whitacre. “That’s what we wanted to do.”

“People expected it to sound like our other projects melted into one,” continued May. “It doesn’t sound like any of those bands I don’t think. That wasn’t necessarily intentional. I’ll write this funky blues Prince kind of riff, then Fred slams in with some KKC-esque drums and B.J. just blows it up on bass.”

Both May and Whitacre say that the term “classy ride for sleazy people” came from a review of the band from a British magazine and well, I must say that it’s pretty spot on! The ride, being the musicality, is extremely energetic yet soulful and authentic. It’s quite sophisticated. But the rock, the raw, raunchy straight-forward rock and roll that is produced from the entity of White Cadillac, is a sleazy, stripper-filled high-octane party, not intended for the faint of heart.

Classy Ride for Sleazy People contains no ballads, and rarely slows for those dangerous curves. Each song is a punch in the face and a kick in the pants. Cuts like the album’s opener “Insomnomaniac” and “Loverman” exemplify what fans have come to know and love of the band; a shameless riff-driven rock song. Other tracks like “Today Is The Day” give a glimpse into the band’s angst-y side and “Girl Likes Girls” turns the raunch up to new levels of greatness, while “Hell Hound” provides a throwback to the mystique surrounding rock and blues music at the Mississippi delta.

“It was fun to sit in the studio and hear all these songs,” said Whitacre. “It’s great how they came to life.”

By: Rick Polo (Editor-in-Cheif)

Artist: Black Light Burns

Album: The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall

Release Date: 8/14/12

Rating: 4.5/5

It’s been five long years since Black Light Burns have released a proper full-length album. In those five years, BLB master-mind Wes Borland had kept his hands pretty full. He’s done small touring stints with BLB as well as a short tenure as Marilyn Manson’s touring guitarist. Most notably, Borland reunited with his former band, Limp Bizkit, to embark on several world tours and release 2011’s Gold Cobra.

With the exception of 2008’s Cover Your Heart, a collection of genre-spanning covers, there’s been little activity from Black Light Burns since the release of their 2007 debut, Cruel Melody.

Borland began Black Light Burns sometime around 2006, collaborating with Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle and drummer extrodinare Josh Freese. Cruel Melody was written and recorded solely by Borland with little instrumentation from his collaborators and a few guest musicians.

In 2012, Borland announced that the band was back and ready to release a new album titled The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall, an album nearly four years in the making.

Borland began writing tracks for the album as far back as 2008 during the Cover Your Heart sessions. The track, “I Want You To” appeared on the soundtrack to the 2009 film Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, but shortly thereafter Borland rejoined Limp Bizkit for extensive touring, leaving many to wonder if and when new Black Light Burns material would surface.

The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall indicates growth and maturity for Borland as a song writer. Even more so than Cruel Melody, this album provides Borland a platform for his signature eccentric playing and unique creativity, painting a macabre portrait with lush soundscapes, driving electro-rhythms and his undeniable abilty to rock the living hell out of his guitar.

The album kicks off with the lead single “How to Look Naked,” a quirky up-tempo rocker. It then explodes into the proto-punk industrial slammers “We Light Up” and “I Want You To.” From there, the album rears its atmospheric head with the electro outerworldly sounds of tracks like “The Colour Escapes” and “Torch From the Sky.”

While there are plenty more guitar-driven rockers such as “Tiger By the Tail” and “Splayed,” weird instrumentation takes hold on tracks like “Your Head Will Be Rotting on a Spike.”

Finally, the final third of the albums leans on a more atmospheric note, some by means of keyboard textures and other by guitar. The album’s closer, “The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall,” is a perfection summation of the two sounds which dominate the album crashed into one song.

Lyrically, the album seems like a leap forward for Borland. He loses some of the angst Cruel Melody conveyed for a slightly more sophisticated and spanful poetic tone, not far from the vein of Detones’ Chino Moreno’s. The lyrics tend to run even deeper than on the previous album, growing darker and more menacing with depth and sophistication. Not bad for a sophmore effort.

Overall, the new album definitely has expanded upon the foundations established by their debut. Instead of repeating the same formula, they’ve taken it a step further by stretching the pallet of the song writing.

Metalheads may have a difficult time with the album. Although there’s plenty of killer riffage, driving rhythms and the occasional soaring guitar solo, as a whole it relies more on the atmospherics and sonic textures. The bass is what’s most heavily distorted, with the guitars providing more of a rock tone than metal. The album will most likely appeal to fans of goth rock, industrial and more left-of-center styles of punk rock.

The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall proves once and for all that Wes Borland is a very distinct artist all on his own and it’s a far cry from that of rap-metallers Limp Bizkit. He’s stated several times that despite still being a full-time member of Limp Bizkit, Black Light Burns is more than just a side project, but its own entity and his own creative outlet.

This disc is tangable proof that he’s exactly right.

By: Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

After seeing a revolving door of area musicians and fill-in guitarists, Youngstown, Ohio’s premiere punk act, Idle Shades, returns with a new permanent guitarist ready to step up and reclaim their place of punk supremacy.

Idle Shades is the product of veteran Youngstown musician Angelo Scordo, who’s extensive resume is filled with the likes of major local acts whose collective styles range clear across the rock and roll landscape. Those acts include Asleep, Clearscale, Dim Star Shining, The Turbo Lovers, The Contradistics and a slew of others.

Throughout his many musical endeavors, Scordo always returns to his first love: punk rock. Idle Shades is his very own punk brainchild and he serves as the group’s bassist, lead vocalist and lyricist. He’s had the project going for many years, but a constant rotation of band members has hindered the project from really taking off, and in the downtime he’s channeled his creativity into the aforementioned bands and projects.

Now, with the indefinite hiatus of his last band, Clearscale, he’s ready to pick up where Idle Shades left off with no plans of stopping along the way this time around.

“We were looking for a permanent member for a long time. We never planned on stopping, but we didn’t want to keep having fill-ins,” said Scordo. “The songs were already written and we wanted someone to add their style and flavor, but wanted to make sure they remained a permanent member.”

Roughly two years ago, Scordo, along with drummer Anthony Rapone, who was also in Clearscale, recorded an eight-song demo that was to be made into a full-length album. The demo featured Scordo pulling the duties of vocals, bass and guitar on his own.

For live purposes, Idle Shades was in need of a permanent guitarist, someone who Scordo notes would also contribute to the project and not just serve as a fill-in.

By the summer of 2012, Scordo began talking with a young local musician named Josh Wakeford. They began discussing the resurrection of the band, which eventually lead to auditions and rehearsals.

“I worked with Josh and he was basically willing to fill in,” said Scordo. “I gave him a CD and he came to practice and to try out and he had all of the songs basically down, with ideas of his own thrown in and he was looking for something permanent also.”

Wakeford said he was really into the music Scordo and Rapone had made and knew he was willing to take on the job.

“I’ve been into music since I was little and have been playing for five years. I met Angelo at the restaurant I work at and we began talking and he asked me if I was interested in jamming with him since we had some similar musical interests,” said Wakeford. “He showed me the Idle Shades demo and I was really into it. After a few jam sessions, it seemed like we all blended well together and they decided to bring Idle Shades back with me on board.”

This is Wakeford’s first major musical project and he hopes to keep it rolling and bring his unique and aggressive styles of guitar playing into the fold.

“Musically, I hope I bring a more aggressive and darker tone,” said Wakeford. “As far as jamming goes, I hope we have a lot of shows coming our way and get Idle Shades rolling.”

Scordo also shares Wakeford’s hopes to keep the band moving forward while also hoping to remix their current recording, adding Wakeford onto the tracks.

“I want to get our name out there finally and get a proper recording,” said Scordo. “Right now we’re just about finished putting the final touches on some of the old songs, as well as new material. We’re going to attempt to re-record and remix our current eight-song demo with new vocals and Josh on guitar and see if we’re happy enough with that. Then we may record another EP, and have it pressed as a double disc. Otherwise, we’re just going to go in and redo the album completely as a full length.”

Through Idle Shades, Scordo incorporates his own unique brand of dark minor chord progressions with up-beat tempos, giving the band a somewhat darker feel, similar to likes of The Damned, Tiger Army and The Offspring.

Idle Shades’ official return to the scene was on Aug. 3, 2012. They will performing at the Raw Alternative launch on Sept. 15 at The Lemon Grove in downtown Youngstown and have another high-profile gig with area favorites The Turbo Lovers on Oct. 27 at The Royal Oaks in Youngstown, Ohio.