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Review: Marilyn Manson Born Villain

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Yesterday was a holiday for the gothic-industrial rock world. Marilyn Manson released Born Villain, the absolutely irreverent, diabolical, and raunchy set of new jams. The album is just over an hour containing a mixed bag of volatile vocals, demonic sounds and a couple songs that fall short of Manson’s antiglorious persona. The album isn’t revolutionary, but is undeniably Manson through and through.

So here is a song-by-song review of the albums highest point and missed marks.

#1 “Hey, Cruel World…” begins the album with the usual recipe. Begin blending harmony and distortion, add some blasphemy, and then apply ample terrifying amounts of anger. Exactly what you’d expect to hear from Manson even three years later. Hey, Cruel World… Tour is still on going.

#2 “No Reflection” is the comeback single released in March. A truly great tune with some death metal influence while retaining its classic Manson-ness. The lyrical play-on-words express how clever the band can be even through such depravity. “No Reflection” also has a music video complete with witchcraft, destruction, and creepy bleeding women.

#3 “Pistol Whipped” is probably one of the funnest songs on the album, as revolting as that may seem. The song’s violent and subliminally sexual themes are easy to beebop your headphones to.

#4 “Overneath the Path of Misery” opens with a strangely mesmerizing intro before crashing you out of the trance with unrelenting industrial riffs. The song has enough allusions to classical literature to cause the more heady listener to dive into the deeper meanings ad nauseum. With so much wicked emotion and rage packed vocals, there is more than enough hate to love here.

#5 “Slo-Mo-Tion” is exactly what it says it is; a slow motion song with emphasis on the lyrics. Very similar to Mechanical Animals. It also may be good for the casual listener who may not like the rash and brash screaming of Manson’s other music.

#6 “The Gardener” is an interesting song. It is mostly spoken word with exception of the chorus. The lyrics sound more like an angsty teen’s poetry: “I’m not man enough to be human, but I’m trying to fit in, and I’m learning to fake it.” The palpable Manson themes of empty social interaction and individuality pervade the poetry though. It is a caustic reflection about how faking it will stop personal growth. A very different style than the rest of the album, but good none the less.

#7 “The Flowers of Evil” has a catchy chorus and a speedy background guitar. A feel good goth song about zombies, or vampires, or whatever nightmare creature Manson’s mind conjured from the grave.

#8 “Children of Cain” has the best lyrics on the new album. Darkwave tones sinks deep into your eardrums while Manson chokes out blasphemous lyrics. “Watching monkey suicide, Sundays AIDS and church wine wash it away”. Here is the anger every Manson fan has been waiting for. This song is the villainous resurrection of Antichrist Superstar almost 15 years ago.

#9 “Disengaged” cranks up the distortion. Turn this song up and fill your anger while yelling “It was regret, not an apology”. Overall, a strong four out of five for this song.

#10 “Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms” is missing so much. Whether or not you agree with Manson’s views, he has always been a type of social reformer through his controversial music. This song is just too blatant on theme, not to mention far too close to generic rock. The raspy power cords and bland lyrics could be performed by any rock band on any popular alternative rock station. Definitely more should be expected from the industrial artist.

#11 “Murders Are Getting Prettier Every Day” Its time to beat the hell out of your ear drums. Screeching and squealing police sirens mix with the sound of tortured guitar riffs and powerful drumming. This song gives new meaning to the word cacophony. This track has all the energy Manson fans have kept pent up for the past three years. You can completely empty your lung crying out the lyrics. Three words, Manson is back.

#12 “Born Villain” is that beautiful feel-bad music which has made the artist so popular. Slow and almost acoustic notes open the track. This type of dark sound just sinks right into the listener. “I don’t ever want god to hear our screams, and mistake them for prayers.” There is a much cleaner method to this track than typical of Manson’s discography. “Born Villain” is an appropriate namesake to carry on Manson’s career.

#13 “Breaking the Same Old Ground” is one of the album’s best tracks. The mournful guitar playing background and the hypnotic whispering gives a very vintage Manson feel. The title itself “Breaking the Same Old Ground” almost gives a sense of Manson reflecting on his own work. This self-questioning through killer new tunes has always been a strong backbone for an artist who defies convention. Slightly reminiscent to “This Is The New S***” and the lyrics “Do we need it? No! Do we want it? Yeah!” This track is a reason to keep loving Manson.

#14 “You’re So Vain” features Johnny Depp believe it or not. Manson takes and twist the popular 1970’s pop song. Manson has long been known for his dark regurgitating of cover songs with a complete new emotion, for example “Halloween” from the Disney movie Nightmare Before Christmas or the ever popular “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. Manson’s “You’re So Vain” is regrettably missing the unmatched genre splicing of his past cover songs. Johnny Depp barely makes any difference in the track and the clear marketing technique for his new movie Dark Shadows, cannot be ignored.

Overall the album is a good addition to Manson’s 7 other studio albums. The band could have taken the musical composition further and some tracks were lacking in creativity. But Born Villain is a good album for any fans industrial collection.

WZRD — WZRD

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

 

WZRD album cover

 

It seems as though Kid Cudi, the “man on the moon,” truly
can work magic with music, as shown by the alternative rock duo self-titled
album WZRD, released today. Cudi collaborated with Dot Da Genius to
create an album with drums, guitars, keyboards, singing, and no rapping or
swear words.

After being announced over a year ago and having the release
date postponed by a month, the 11-track album debuted at number 1 on iTunes.
The album was recorded on a tour bus at Cudi’s home in Los Angeles.

Dubbing WZRD an alternative rock album surely made
fans expect something extremely different from Cudi’s previous albums and
mixtapes, but the album may have made many realize how prominent instruments
and singing are in all of his work. Although the lack of rapping and profanity
is noticeable, every song on the album is very identifiable as a Kid Cudi song.

The album begins with “The Arrival,” an instrumental song
that very appropriately introduces the music style that Cudi and Da Genius work
with throughout WZRD. Jimi Hendrix-inspired guitar is prominent in the
song, and in most of the other tracks.

Dot Da Genius and Kid Cudi

An energetic song follows the instrumental, “High On Life,”
obviously inspired by Cudi’s decision to stop smoking marijuana last April. The
“lonely stoner” shocked many with his announcement, and said in an interview
with datnewcudi.com that he had writer’s block for five months after deciding
to stay sober. Listeners will be grateful that he broke through the block as
they listen to “High On Life,” a song heavy with guitar riffs and snare drum.
The chorus features Cudi crooning, “I never ever thought it could be/ Never
thought the day would come for me/ When I would be high on life.”

The song is upbeat and can serve as an inspiration for
anybody trying stay sober as well.

Perhaps the most alternative rock-like song on the album,
“Live and Learn,” begins with guitar chords followed by bass and cymbals. Cudi
sings about the lessons life has to offer, and poses the question, “Where did I
come from?/ Is it the moon or a planet I ain’t heard of?” This line suggests
that Cudi views WZRD as being very different from his Man on the Moon
albums.

A track that stands out amongst the upbeat and inspired
tracks on the album is “Efflictim,” which shows the insecure and humble side of
Cudi that his fans are so familiar with. Cudi hums and sings to someone about
the troubling idea of what they would do if he were to die. The chorus goes,
“I’m just trying to say is life is too short/ Though I make mistakes, baby, I’m
trying to make things right/ All I’m trying to say is that life is too short/
All we got is love, baby, and the time to make it right.”

Other notable songs are “Love Hard,” which features guitar
as well as some beats, “Teleport 2 Me, Jamie,” the lead single, and “Where Did
You Sleep Last Night?,” a cover of the blues song by Lead Belly, which is
inspired by Nirvana’s cover of the same song.

As a whole, the lyrics in WZRD express Cudi’s new
perspective on life. Inspired by both his sobriety and his daughter, Cudi seems
to be growing up, and this album shows that. While the music itself isn’t
anything special compared to other alternative rock albums, it’s a very unique
mix of hip-hop techniques and rock rhythms that music listeners have never
heard before.

WZRD certainly isn’t the type of album that most of
Cudi’s fans are used to listening to, but is still a great piece of work from
the talented artist. Fans can appreciate Cudi’s ability to be musically diverse
while awaiting the release of the third Man on the Moon album this fall.

El Camino — The Black Keys

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Over the past ten years blues rock duo The Black Keys has
released seven studio albums, won three Grammy’s, and been featured in a wide
variety of movie and television soundtracks, commercials, and video games. The
duo, consisting of vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney
released their seventh album, El Camino, today.

Although El Camino’s sound is very similar to that of
previous Black Keys albums, the album nonetheless shows off the duo’s musical
and lyrical talents.

The Black Keys performed the album’s single, “Lonely Boy,”
and another track, “Gold on the Ceiling,” this past weekend on Saturday Night
Live.

Their performance of “Lonely Boy” was energetic, as the song
is full of hip-swinging guitar riffs and bass- and cymbal-heavy drums. Like
most other Black Keys songs “Lonely Boy” rocks the whole way through, from the
beginning guitar chords to the last beat of the bass drum. The catchy chorus
has Auerbach and background singers chanting, “Oh-woah-oh-oh/I got a love that
keeps me waiting/I’m a lonely boy.”

The fourth track on the album, “Little Black Submarines,” is
reminiscent of 1970s rock such as Eagles’ “Hotel California” in the beginning
of the song. When the first soft notes are played on the guitar and then joined
by Auerbach’s soulful voice, one hears the song fitting well in the background
of a movie in which a beat up Cadillac sails down a desert highway into sunset.
The song is slow, with just the guitar, vocals, a tambourine, and very little
bass drum. Until two minutes in, when the guitar becomes more vibrant, a bass
guitar joins in, and Carney starts in on his usual rhythmic beating of his drum
kit. “Little Black Submarines” is touching and a bit angsty, with lyrics
expressing a feeling of desperation.

Another great song on the album is “Nova Baby,” with bitter,
“just you wait and see,” style lyrics. The message is paired with incredibly
catchy and upbeat guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, and a little tambourine.
“Nova Baby” is very typical of The Black Keys’ style of music: songs that will
get audiences happily singing along to unhappy lyrics.

Other noteworthy tracks are “Dead and Gone” (turn the bass
up on that one), “Sister,” and the somewhat Doors-y “Stop Stop.”

The Black Keys’ sound hasn’t varied much over their ten-year
career, and unlike most artists that isn’t a setback for them. Their music is
unique enough to keep audiences intrigued; it’s blues you can dance to, rock
that tugs at your emotions.

It’s also nice to see that The Black Keys have held their
ground after the massive popularity of 2010’s Brothers. The familiarity
of El Camino is welcome in a world where artists get mainstream notice
and then their music begins to lose integrity. This album is piece of quality
music, and a testament to Auerbach’s and Carney’s immense talent.