Friday, December 16, 2011

CFW Rocks: Most Anticipated New Music of 2012

2011 had some really good music, but 2012 may just top it with some potential returns and brilliant up and comers. So, here it is in no particular order:

1. Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline - The Italian six-piece hits stores for the first time since 2009's Shallow Life. In a move that surprised many older fans, they returned to the studio with Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Bullet for My Valentine) in an attempt to return to their (In a) Reverie roots. Cristina and company claim that the album (out January 24th) is their heaviest album to date. "Trip the Darkness" and "Kill the Light" seem to suggest a much darker record (no pun intended) than the glammier Shallow Life.

2. Shinedown - TBA - Shinedown attempts to recreate the magic of The Sound of Madness with their upcoming fourth record. They returned to the studio with Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) and "Bully" the upcoming first single off of their new album impacts radio at the beginning of next year. It'll be interesting to hear whether the album is an extension of the ├╝ber-successful Sound or whether they go back to the sound of Leave a Whisper, that first netted them a platinum record.

3. Nine Lashes - World We View - The five-piece Birmingham, AL band goes major in 2012, putting out World We View, joining Tooth and Nail while hitting the road on Redvolution 2012 with Red and Thousand Foot Krutch. Songs like "Anthem of the Lonely" and "Adrenaline" give a glimpse into an album that is sure to be on top of year end lists as their independent Escape was in '09.

4. Fireflight - Now - Fireflight returns with their fourth album and will dominate Christian rock radio yet again when their album hits on March 6th. They've consistently put out a record every two years since their existence and have consistently rocked with every release. "Stay Close" is no different. All secular rock radio needs to do now is give them the break they deserve.

5. Hurt - The Crux - After a critically acclaimed acoustic tour, Hurt will put out their sixth album on March 27th. Hurt is an anomaly in the world of major labels. Most bands would crumble after leaving or getting dropped from a major label. Hurt's response was 2009's independent release Goodbye to the Machine, an album that I consider their best release to date. Hurt moves to Carved Records for this release and I'm happy their new single "How We End Up Alone" will be one of my first music purchases of the new year.

6. Valora - I Waited For You - After a successful remix of Breaking Benjamin's "Blow Me Away" featuring lead singer Syd Duran's vocals and after following the workings of this band for the last three years, Valora finally releases their highly anticipated Hollywood Records debut on April 3rd. I Waited For You is a multimedia concept record of sorts that features a free downloadable comic book with the accompanying upcoming record.

7. Trapt - Reborn - After No Apologies and an independent album featuring a collection of re-recorded past hits, Trapt returns in April with yet another independent release. Trapt recorded "Bring It", that will likely appear on the upcoming release and it's sounds as if Trapt is going back to the sound of their self-titled that netted them their biggest hit to date, "Headstrong".

8. No Doubt - TBA - After two solo Gwen Stefani records and over 10 years on the shelf, No Doubt attempts to reclaim the throne with their upcoming sixth record. A successful tour with Paramore in 2009 inspired them to return to their ska and reggae roots for their upcoming record which should be out by next year.

9. Halestorm - TBA - Halestorm returns next year with their female-fronted classic rock flair. The four piece from Pennsylvania has been recording since the end of the Avalanche Tour and have already given fans bits and pieces of the sound of the next record with songs like "American Boys".

10. Oh No Fiasco - TBA - After tour dates with bands such as Red and Framing Hanley in 2010, Knoxville outlet Oh No Fiasco will be releasing their debut with Eleven Seven Music sometime in 2012. Their catchy synthy rock will be sure to gain the attention of droves of new fans.

11. Nine Inch Nails - TBA - After holding the last live show almost two years ago and having successful stints in movie scoring that landed Trent Reznor a Golden Globe AND an Oscar, Reznor intends to focus on bringing Nine Inch Nails back in 2012. Most fans will be happy with just about anything as it was thought that Nine Inch Nails was pretty much never going to release any more new music.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The 2011 Dubbies

After two years, I've brought back my personal awards in the world of music, The Dubbies, not to be confused with dubstep...WOBWOBWOB!!

Eight awards will be given out this year and I think the bands I've recognized for nomination are very much deserving.

Headbanger of the Year:
Trivium-In Waves
Underoath-Paper Lung
Straight Line Stitch-Conversion
Dark New Day-Come Alive
Dead By April-Within My Heart
Times In Grace-Strength in Numbers

The winner is:
Trivium-In Waves. Trivium washed away the competition with this brutal number. It was the uncompromising Trivium that many fans thought they'd lost with their latest albums, but it was also really catchy and I think that made a lot of new fans for Trivium this year.

Female Fronted Band of the Year:
Evanescence
Noctura
Charetta
Icon For Hire
Within Temptation
Don't Wake Aislin

The winner is:
Evanescence. Amy Lee and company came back in a big way this year with their self-titled effort. It was proof that they could stick around through all of the drama and, unlike The Open Door, worked this time.

Music Video of the Year:
Rise Against - Make It Stop (September's Children)
Red - Feed The Machine
Stone Sour - Hesitate
Seven Day Sonnet - Farewell to Good Days
Seether - Country Song
Underoath - Paper Lung

The winner is:
Rise Against-Make It Stop (September's Children). Rise Against is one of the few artists who gets better and better with music videos over time. This video (and song) about the recent teen suicide/cyberbullying trend is gutwrenching but, as all of their videos, makes you think and makes you want to act.

EP of the Year:
Charetta - A Nation Distracted
Don't Wake Aislin - Don't Wake Aislin
Dead Fish Handshake - Dead Fish Handshake
Periphery - The Icarus EP
Cavo - Sounds From the Hollow
Crosses - Crosses

The winner is:
Charetta-A Nation Distracted. Charetta is a band that has been under the radar for far too long and this EP shows their growth. The first full-length gave them the catchy songs, but this EP is showing off their songwriting and storytelling.

Best New Artist:
Noctura
Vestascension
Memory of a Melody
Eye Empire
Park Lane
Icon For Hire

The winner is:
It's a TIE! Noctura and Vestascension! It was hard to give it to one artist, but these two artists are great. Noctura this year deserves it for where they came from to get to where they are at this point and Vestascension because they give so much to their fans.

Record of the Year:
Thrice - Yellow Belly
There for Tomorrow - Hunt Hunt Hunt
Freestate - Home
Periphery - Jetpacks Was Yes 2.0
Red - Feed the Machine
Blindside - There Must Be Something in the Water

The winner is:
Thrice-Yellow Belly. Thrice is the most diverse band I've ever known and it's going to be hard to see them go into hiatus for the time being.

Song of the Year:
Charetta - Bully
Vestascension - Then We Are Here
Eye Empire - More Than Fate
Revis - From That Point On
Evanescence - My Heart is Broken
Twin Atlantic - Free

The winner is:
Vestascension-Then We Are Here. This was a wide open field, but I felt that Vestascension had the best song on this list. You don't have to make a song for radio to have a song that gets recognized for its greatness.

Album of the Year:
Evanescence - Evanescence
Dark New Day - Hail Mary
Red - Until We Have Faces
Freestate - Unify
Eye Empire - Moment of Impact
Thrice - Major/Minor

The winner is:
Freestate-Unify. Best album of the year hands down. All of the entries here deserve recognition, but Freestate put out another album that churns hit after hit. Freestate's debut Surrender was no fluke. The album of the year goes to Freestate.

Great year for rock music and I'm looking forward to more in 2012.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011: The Year in Musical Fail

By now, most of you will have already pegged the biggest musical fails to be Rebecca Black's "Friday" and Metallica and Lou Reed's Lulu. However, there is still more fail where that came from this year.

1. Guns n'Roses' disastrous Rock in Rio performance of Mr. Brownstone.
This is Mr. Brownstone as it was performed at Rock in Rio in 1991.
This is Mr. Brownstone as it was performed at Rock in Rio in 2011.
Any questions?
Axl has always been considered one of the greatest lead singers in the history of hard rock music. However, that fateful night this past October was embarrassing to his own legacy. Axl looked like Yosemite Sam really let himself go and I was surprised that he was able to fit himself and his ego in that gaudy-ass coat.

2. Bill O'Reilly attacks socially conscious rapper Common.
Bill O'Reilly continued his attack on mainstream rap music this year by attacking Common, who read poetry to kids in the White House. Bill O'Reilly was offended that they invited Common to the White House because of foul language in his lyrics and his radical political views on defending Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu Jamal amongst other alleged cop killers.

It then led to Jon Stewart obliterating O'Reilly both on his Daily Show and on Bill's own show The O'Reilly Factor. I could even sort of understand why Mr. O'Reilly has attacked other rappers such as Ludacris and Cam'ron because of their lyrics. However, Common is the least offensive rapper in the mix. I've got about 435 reasons to be angry about Washington more than I do some rapper that gets invited to the White House.

3. The Year in Kim Kardashian
Yes, Kim Kardashian invaded music this year, too. In fact, it's more of a fail than her marriage ever was this year. The year started off when she was invited to go on stage at a Prince concert. It's bad when a middle aged lady knows more what to do on stage than Kim does. It's even worse when Kim's had practice. No, not that kind of practice, this kind...you would think that that would be the worst of it, but we're not done yet.

Somehow, Kimmy K. thought she could be the next Apollonia by starting her own music career. And then this happened. Get off the stage, Kim...and take The Dream with you.

4. Limp Bizkit: Don't Call It a Comeback
Yes, Limp Bizkit attempted to return to their glory days by releasing Gold Cobra. And it actually did make sense seeing as other acts such as Hollywood Undead were becoming popular. Unfortunately for Limp Bizkit, many people were trying to forget those days where they wore their red Yankee cap backwards and arbitrarily grabbed their crotch. You want a visual representation of the music on Gold Cobra?



That covers it. Within the year, Limp Bizkit left their longtime home at Interscope Records.

5. Nickelback honors the Thanksgiving tradition of being the invitee that nobody actually wants there.

How hated do you have to be to be petitioned to go away? Nickelback performed at Detroit's Thanksgiving game against the Green Bay Packers, which many fans thought was cruel and unusual punishment. They lost to the Packers and had to listen to Nickelback for the halftime show. As of this post, they haven't won a game since Nickelback performed.

Well, as you can clearly see, there's much more to the year in suck than you may have previously thought. Now let us never speak of this year this way again.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

2011: The Year in Viral Music

2011 marked an unforgettable year in music that went viral.

The video and song that set the tone for this year was Rebecca Black's "Friday". It trended and trended and yeah. Most everybody hated it, but most everybody was parodying it too. The song got so popular that it had been in the I-Tunes Top 100.

The song got so popular that it became the product of a lawsuit. The song's views got to a point where Youtube wanted to profit off of it even further, charging users to play the entire song and eventually pulling it and its millions of views. Not long after, the video returned to Youtube and has continued to amass an insane number of views.

It's gotten to a point that Rebecca Black has been granted a legitimate chance to have a music career. Her two followup videos, "My Moment" and "Person of Interest", have amassed over 30 million Youtube views.

No genre has benefitted from viral music as much as rap has. Last year's biggest viral hit was "The Bed Intruder Song".

The most controversial viral video this year was Mr. EBT's "My EBT". On the one hand, many people thought it was funny, but conservative commentators were quick to jump on its message saying that far too many people abuse the country's welfare system. It was because of this that the duo that made it (Money Maine was the producer) onto the news having to explain their stance on the song.

The Black Friday anthem of the year clearly went to Mr. Ghetto's "Wally World". If you're going to shake your ass while pepper spraying people in the face just to get that discounted X-Box, this is the jam to do it to. This is one of those videos that they would have probably shown on BET's Uncut back in the day at 3 o'clock in the morning. I want to hate it, but it's just so damn catchy.

Not everything turns out to be so bad it's good. Take Boston duo's Karmin, who's "Look At Me Now" video was amongst the top viewed videos of the entire year with almost 50 million views. In fact, most of their covers have at least 10 million Youtube views. They played Ellen, got commercial spots on the NBA Finals, and eventually got signed to Epic Records. Their debut album will hit stores next year and marks a change in traditional means for discovering new talent. This is the new tradition.

I just wonder what viral video can do the same next year.