The 1st Music Video: Commission to Completion

What’s up friends. Thanks for giving me a few minutes of your time yet again. Today I want to talk about music videos. Aside from an album, they’re probably the most anticipated part of being in a band. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the harder things to pull off well. However, if you and your band are willing to work your ass off, you can create a nice product that doesn’t cost too much. Let’s start by talking about what you need to make one.

You’ve got a band, so we’ll skip that. Next you’ll need someone who can shoot (maybe more than one), someone to direct, someone to light the shoot and someone to edit. That’s the bare essentials. That list can be way bigger but if you’ve got at least that, you can pull this off. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find someone who can do all 4 of those, but you need someone who can do all 4 of those well. Lighting makes the difference between a good idea and a good idea that looks great, and in my opinion, there is no person more important than the editor. A good editor can work wonders on even the poorest film.

If you don’t know any of these people there are several ways to find them. First, look at other bands in your area who have music videos and ask them who shot theirs. If there are none (or they all look like crap) try posting an add in a classified. You’d be surprised how many young filmmakers will be interested in working cheap to build their portfolio. Lastly, find your local film school and reach out to the students there. You may find people there who are just learning but they will have access to all the equipment they need and will need to film projects for their class and future.

If you’re fortunate enough to have multiple options (who will work for the money you have) you can ask them to write treatments. You and your band will then be able to choose which story line you like best and of course work with that director to modify the idea if needed. It’s important to research the directors past work though. Many times directors will write a treatment for a video they’d like to make, but that doesn’t mean they can make it. If you have your own idea, or only one director to work with, you can develop the treatment together. It’s important to note that a music video is a work of art created with another artist so make sure that the directors ideas are part of the end product. If they are not excited about it, you won’t get the best product possible.

One important note about treatments. It is extremely important to make sure that any actors you want to hire for the video can actually act. Bad acting in a narrative scene will ruin an entire video. This also means that if none of the members of your band are also actors, then none of you should be acting in the video. You don’t have to make a movie. A well shot band performance makes a great video as well and in general, you’d rather have the end product look great than try to do too much and have it all look cheap. A good director will have ideas that can add to it as well. Ethereal film work can be done anywhere so it doesn’t have to cost much and it can add a lot to the finished product.

Once you have your treatment picked you and your band will likely need to do quite a bit of work helping find a location and of course getting gear to it. Be sure to be early and ready to work hard. The filming process will take longer than you expect and when you’re exchanging money for sweat, there is no such thing as being a rockstar. Get ready to work.

Of course, none of this matters if you don’t perform well, and this is going to be unlike any performance you’ve ever done. To begin with, you’re going to be acting like you’re playing while also trying to listen to a recording of your music being played back from the other side of a room. I can’t stress enough the importance of a playback system loud enough for all to hear. If you don’t have professional dead cymbals, you can double stack your cymbals which will deaden them considerably. You will probably still need to hide a monitor somewhere close to the drummer either way though. If you’re the singer, get ready for a hard day. Your mouth needs to match the lyrics perfectly and I’m betting you don’t sing along to your own album often. You don’t have to fake it if you’re not comfortable either. You can sing at full volume just be prepared that it’s going to make it that much harder for you to her playback.

The most important thing to tell your band is that every member needs to perform like the camera is on them 100% of the time. Chances are even if they’re not directly on camera, they’re in the background and if they’re just standing there, they’re ruining the shot. Bring it like it’s your last performance ever, and yes, you’ll need to film the whole song a bunch of times. It’s not unusual to do as many as 20 full passes plus closeups of individual members.

If you do all of that and have a good editor, you’ll be happy with the final product. One last piece of advice, if you have to make a choice between spending money on a location or props and spending money on a good camera and lights – choose the camera and lights. Best of luck and post your videos here! I’d love to see them!

Here is the music video for the song ‘… And Hell Followed With Him’. This is the 1st music video created for Jason’s band IKILLYA.


Best Of 2012: Our Top 10 Albums List

So here we are. We have almost made it through 2012. Today could be our last day if the Mayan calendar is correct and the world is due to end tomorrow, 21st December but fingers crossed we still have a little more time to enjoy some more great music.

Way back in April we posted our first 4 month round-up of our favourite albums of the year to date. This was followed up 4 months later with another list in August and as promised, here we are 4 months later at the end of the year ready to share some more top picks of the past 4 months as well as our Top 10 albums of 2012 list.

So here we go!
First off, here is a selection of new releases that we have been enjoying since our last post in August:

ZZ Top – La Futura
Soundgarden – King Animal
Feed The Rhino – The Burning Sons
Bury Tomorrow – The Union Of Crowns
Katatonia – Dead End Kings
The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
While She Sleeps – This Is The Six
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
The Killers – Battle Born
Mumford & Sons – Babel
Down – Down IV Part I
Devin Townsend – Epicloud
Muse – The 2nd Law
Lower Than Atlantis – Changing Tune
Bob Mould – Silver Age
Coheed And Cambria – The Afterman
Hooded Menace – Effigies Of Evil
Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
Kiss – Monster
Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas
Enslaved – RIITIIR
Pig Destroyer – Book Burner
Fear Factory – The Industrialist
Blood On The Dance Floor – Anthem Of The Outcast
Family – Portrait
Black Country Communion – Afterglow
And You Will Kow Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs
alt J – An Awesome Wave
Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension
The Rolling Stones – GRRR
Rolo Tomassi – Astraea
Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Call Me No One – Last Parade
Focus – X

So after much deliberation and discussion we have managed to reach a decision on our top 10 albums of 2012. Take a look and leave a comment with your top 10 list.

(In no order)
Soundgarden – King Animal

Enslaved – RIITIIR
Black Country Communion – Afterglow
Rush – Clockwork Angels
Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Tank – War Nation
Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
Anathema – Weather Systems
Black Breath – Sentenced To Life
Bob Mould – Silver Age

Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Album Review: Soundgarden ‘King Animal’


Soundgarden – King Animal
Genre: Rock
Label: Republic Records

Soundgarden, perhaps known as “that band that did Black Hole Sun”, left a big mark in rock music worldwide in the 90s in the rise and peak of grunge fascination. Although the band did get caught up in the whole Seattle grunge scene, along with the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Screaming Trees, etc., Soundgarden had a big southern rock and metallic influence with their dirty approach to rock music.

Despite starting in 1984, it was only in 1991 that they experienced international success with undeniably great “Badmotorfinger”, and furthered that success with the fan favourite album “Superunknown” in 1994. Both albums launched the band to the front of music magazines around the globe, and gave the world rock anthems like Jesus Christ PoseRusty CageSpoonman and Fell On Black Days. However, the follow-up album, “Down On The Upside”, didn’t quite live up to the standards of the previous two albums, although achieving Platinum sales in the US, Canada and Australia. Tension in the band and clashes for future motives and directions of the music then culminated in their break-up in 1997.

This led to a series of new projects for each member; the most popular being vocalist Chris Cornell with Audioslave and his solo career. Guitarist Kim Thayil went an underground route, working with the likes of punk legend Jello Biafra, Dave Grohl’s collaborative project Probot and even featured on the Sunn O))) and Boris album “Altar”. Bassist Ben Shepard worked with another grunge idol Mark Lanegan and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, while drummer Matt Cameron momentarily joined The Smashing Pumpkins and eventually joining Pearl Jam full time.

Many years later, this leads us to now. In 2010, the guys decided to put past disputes aside and have reunited to give us their sixth album, finally releasing a new album “King Animal” in 2012. As expected, pressure is always on for a band that has built its own legacy and popularity worldwide, left and to return well over a decade with new material… and Soundgarden has done well.

The first track and single, Been Away Too Long, a title well chosen, starts the album in fourth gear and borrows a huge influence from Led Zeppelin with its guitar-driven sound and Chris Cornell’s signature raspy, old-school rock voice has aged a little, sounding a little coarser, but this only adds to the atmosphere. None-State Actor starts with a skipping and sliding bass, sounding a lot like something you might expect from a psychedelic stoner band, and is a lot more prominent in the overall mix than the guitar. There’s also the use of an organ keys and the good ol’ cowbell, furthering the old rock’n’roll vibes.

By Crooked Steps returns to a heavier sound that Soundgarden were known for before and features perhaps the most memorable riff; highlighting Thayil’s pretty intricate guitar within overlapping layers. It’s the nearest to their old song that you get on the album, and it’s great! On the other hand, the following track A Thousand Days Before is cleaner, and again its the skipping guitar lines that steal the show; however the rest of it can be a little forgettable.

Unfortunately this is the case for a few songs on the album, either due to forgettable lyrics/vocals and predictable song structures – something that Soundgarden had previously been known for being experimental in. Blood On The Valley turns out to be the prime example of this; just being a tad monotonous with its slow jam approach, and while it is relaxing it is ultimately skippable too. However, sixth track Bones Of Birds turns it around completely, despite being another slow song. The slightly distorted, lethargic guitars along with Cornell’s vocals creates a nice mellow yet thoughtful atmosphere that really grabs your attention without trying.

Taree continues the ballad section of the album, but dips back to the same dryness of  Blood On The Valley, which is disappointing considering the heavy feel of Bones Of Birds. Thankfully, Attrition picks up the pace of the album again with a seductive ZZ Top-like groove, Cornell’s vocals floating soothingly over the top of the driving instrumental. Black Saturday sees the band mostly acoustic, and it hooks you in with opening’s bongos and lines “Promise something / Kill me right away if I start to get slow / Don’t remember / How to separate the worm from the apple / Don’t wait ’til tomorrow”. Although the subject matter sounds dark, the delivery of it feels nothing but enlightening; easily making up for the previous dud tracks.

Then Halfway There is probably the most up-beat sounding song on the album, especially with lines like “Sometimes when you’re shooting an arrow it can fly across the sky so proud”. The guitar tone that appeared on their hit Black Hole Sun also emerges on this track, which works well with the reminiscent feel of the track. Tenth track Worse Dreams opens with low guitar sweeps as a lead drones on top; soon drums and the bass comes in with Cornell coming in last, slowly swelling into big rockin’ chorus. The track just has a real playful feel to it.

Eyelid’s Mouth starts off mellow with guitar effects and a jamming drum, before the the guitar settles into a lead groove backed by the bass, with backing vocals supporting Cornell on “Who let the water run down / Who let the river run dry” – making the track brooding yet enjoyable. The final track, Rowing, stands out in comparison with the rest of the album and an odd choice for a closer: the drums have an electronic yet live feel to them, with a low, fast-rolling bass (in very short bursts) but the vocal melody resonates the blues – it’s almost as if the band are prisoners working on building a railway in the warm sun. The track then fades out the same as it started, leaving you unsure of what you’ve just heard.

Overall, this seems like the lighter direction that Cornell had been fighting for towards their break-up all those years ago, because this album in comparison to the likes of “Badmotorfinger” and “Superunknown” is a big shift to a more mainstream sound; but it isn’t the bad thing. Yes, Soundgarden seem to have lost the grit and edge that made their music so impossible to turn down on “King Animal”, but they’ve proven that they can master the the more softer aesthetics of rock music just as well. Perhaps this is just a sign of the band warming up and cracking their knuckles for the future.

As I said, some tracks do come across as a bit linear and boring, but overall the album is pretty good as a whole. The experimental side is lacking, and again, it isn’t as heavy as some of their earlier material, but it’s a promising return for Soundgarden and certain tracks more than make up for the forgettable. For 13 years of being apart, this is a pretty solid release.

Favourite tracks: Black SaturdayBy Crooked StepsBones Of Birds.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Grammy Nominations – The Expected and the Unexpected

The nominations for the 2013 Grammy Awards are officially in, and although most of the names on the various lists were already seen as shoe-ins, there were a few surprises here and there.  Taylor Swift and LL Cool J delivered the news via a series of awkwardly staged dialogues, but in the end we got the information we needed… though some of it was better news than others.

Perhaps no one was surprised that Justin Bieber didn’t get any nominations – no one but his manager, that is.  Scooter Braun took to Twitter after the ceremony was over, saying that he felt his client deserved to be recognized, and that he thought the Grammy board “blew it on this one.”

Nicki Minaj was likely also shocked that her album didn’t get any Grammy love this year.  It was a huge commercial success and full of catchy singles, but for some reason it just didn’t grab the attention of the voting committee.

Some, though, have commented that the exclusion of the darlings of cheap radio pop indicates that the music industry is finally waking up and seeing where the real talent is.  The nominee lists in many of the categories were rock– and alternative-heavy, with a strong leaning toward the folk and Americana side of the spectrum.  Gotye, Ed Sheeran, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Jack White all got nominations, and even Bjork managed to pick up a nod in the Alternative Music category.

Others, however, raked in nomination after nomination.  Six seemed to be the number of the night, with Frank Ocean, Fun. Mumford & Sons, Jay-Z, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, and Kanye West all pulling in six nominations each.  Fun. seemed particularly surprised by their success, even though they were told ahead of time that they were strong favorites to get nominated in several categories.  They weren’t sure whether to believe the hype, so they stopped listening to any rumors about the Grammys weeks ago, and described their reaction to the news as “emotional.”

Of course those who were surprised by the nominations should know by now that this is only the beginning – the 2013 Grammy Awards will air on February 10, and there are sure to be some upsets and triumphs on the night.