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Music Reviews

Robert Gotcher

Robert Gotcher

Change

Singer/songwriter Robert Gotcher embodies the moodier, introspective side of Christian rock. In other words, much of the material on here probably wouldn’t be light and pop enough for praise and worship radio stations. The first cut, “Never Let It Go,” is as close as Gotcher gets to a stadium-ready Christian anthem, his undying love for God as vividly and loudly pronounced as it can be. Gotcher doesn’t do a Bono, either, disguising scripture in the context of rock poetry; his spiritual leanings are open and exploding with sincere affection.

However, Gotcher throws curveballs throughout the record. While other Christian artists are reluctant to expose personal wounds, Gotcher lets it bleed. “Goodbye” hovers overhead like a black cloud, its melancholic beauty touching and breaking the heart simultaneously. There is no happy, sugar-coated ending in “Goodbye”; just like its title states, it is a final farewell, a tear-soaked admission of defeat. There isn’t even a sense of life getting better after the break-up. The song reflects the reality of a busted relationship with no hope of repair.

Nevertheless, this is an overall positive album. The reggae-tinged “Real Life Charades” and the infectious crystalline jangle of “Sweet Clarity” brighten the dimmest of summer shades. Gotcher’s songwriting is straightforward and honest but doesn’t forget that only hooks can elevate a tune from words on paper to melodies that soar like angel wings.

www.robertgotcher.com

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Music Reviews

Change!

Change!

Change!

Hot Topic – Sub City – Hopeless Records

This slick two-disc set consists of both a DVD and CD — listen to one on your car stereo and watch the other on your iPod. Not a bad concept for the 21st compilation of over a dozen bands. The music here is amazingly consistent — if you love one song, you’ll adore the whole disc, and if the first song isn’t your cup of tea, best to mosey along. Chiodos open with “The Words Best Friend Become Redefined.” It’s an amalgam of heavy metal and post-’90s punk — loud, chunky guitar chords, growling back-up vocals, and the occasional slow patch that almost suggests “We ARE sensitive, if things weren’t so screwed up.”

The videos on the DVD are all high-quality little films — cleverly thought out, slickly executed, and fully supportive of the music. It’s almost like the ghost of MTV past came back and said “Hey, guys, can we make music videos again? They were fun to haunt.” The Silverstein video for “If You Could See Into My Soul” is a nice little bank robbery/ hostage fantasy, Escape The Fate does a nice “Hot for Teacher” rip off, and As I Lay Dying hangs their brink of headbanging around a retro-future science-fiction story.

Musically, these bands are angry, guttural, and intellectual. Visually they couple with some of the best videographers working and present slick, well-crafted pieces of entertainment. Socially, five percent of the profits go to Hot Topic which supports up-and coming-bands. Grab this disc; it’s still not too late to bang your head in the 21st century.

Change! at: Hopelessrecords.comSubcity.netHottopic.com

Categories
Bantam's Don't Be's

Don’t Be My World

Don’t Be My World

Sometimes you’re up, sailing around with your friends in bliss. The wind pushes you along and all of the forces of nature seem to be on your side. Behind you are the rough spots that were hard to make it through, but your friends were there to force you so things were actually favorable. Then the weather turns and the bottom drops out. Storms rain down blood from the sky and huge blasts of lightning tear your footing out from under you. Your world changes.

I remember a time when the trees provided my playground, my friends all rode bicycles and a fruitless joke would be our fuel for the day. We didn’t know what bills were and a relationship was something that grown-ups had. We had girlfriends but they were the same as our boyfriends and we all played the same games. Everything was free back then because our parents had paid for it. Everyone was around all of the time. That was our world then and we thought it would be that way forever.

I didn’t see the new things coming. It was as if they were always there. Music was somehow important enough to determine what friends I was going to be around the most. The amount of money that kids were brought up with determined this too. Girls started to look different to us. We started competing for their attention. We learned how to curse, sneak out at night, and do things we weren’t suppose to do, but worst of all we learned how to hate. Jealousy drove us insane.

All of this concluded who we were going to be during the next few years of a maddening prison called High School. In this world we had to make decisions. What were we going to do when we graduated? What type of career? What sports were we going to play? Who did we want to go out with? How were we going to make money at that point in time? Do I really love this girl or am I too young to understand just what that is? Should I do this drug everyone is doing? Is it all right to drink and drive? What college do I want to go to? Do I have enough money? Should I try for a scholarship? Should I break this asshole’s face? Should I kill myself? Why? I was always tortured by that miserable fuck of a question “Why?”. My world had changed again.

Now who gives a shit why? Nothing makes sense. Everything is surreal. My blood-covered ship has disolved into the ocean. There are no reasons why. Friends are gone. Loved ones die. Grim diseases plague our world now. Things get worse to get better and then get worse again. The people we trust betray us. Our enemies become our friends. Nature is beautiful even when it devastates. I wish I never learned that there are things worse than death. I wish you weren’t my world right now.

Categories
Music Reviews

The Dismemberment Plan

The Dismemberment Plan

Change

DeSoto

Two years ago, The Dismemberment Plan released Emergency & I, an album that was undeniably one of my favorites of the decade. So much music comes across my desk that it’s rare that I listen to any record many times after I’ve reviewed it, but two years later, I still listen to Emergency fairly regularly. Moreover, it was a constant presence in the old Ink 19 offices, where it would play almost daily throughout 2000, and during the marathon production sessions that the old print beast required, it would often play more frequently than that. Many’s the record review that should have been completed that was put off because we were instead blaring Emergency & I at 3 AM for the nth time (so now all you other bands know who to blame!). In short, to say anticipation was high for Change would be the biggest understatement since the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where John Cleese’s Black Knight called his own dismemberment “only a flesh wound.”

Luckily, it was all worth the wait, as Change is easily one of the best records of the year. While the band maintains its signature mix of layered keyboards, driving, danceable rhythms, and chiming guitars, all topped off by Travis Morrison’s pleading, insistent vocals, there’s nothing “formula” or pat about Change. Where the band could have easily gotten away with remaking Emergency, they instead heed the album’s title and explore all manner of new ideas. In other words, while the record still sounds like The Dismemberment Plan (something no other band can do), it still sounds fresh and different from the band’s prior efforts, at once familiar and completely new. Take the skittery “The Other Side” for just one example: at its heart, the song is a herky-jerky mix of funky bass and complex, unpredictable (and amazing) drums, and taken on just those elements, would sound unlike anything the band’s done before. But there’s just a hint of atmospheric guitar and keys that shade the track, and these elements combine with Morrison’s distinctive vocals to create a comfortable familiarity on what would otherwise be a very big departure. Similarly, “Pay For the Piano” is a bit more “big time rock” (think U2) than what you might expect from The Plan, but takes these atmospheric little breaks and turns that really set the track apart.

Other highlights include the bouncy story-song “Ellen And Ben,” with its Prince-like guitar flourishes and judicious use of sampled sound effects; “Superpowers,” the most Emergency-like track, with its stuttering keys and groove-y bassline (I wish it was the theme for Smallville — it’s better and more appropriate than that wretched Remy Zero track they’re using); “Secret Curse,” for its quiet verses that build and flow through a rapid-fire delivery (think R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” only better) that crescendoes in an insistent, loud, hard chorus, Morrison’s pleas of “please, please, I’m sorry” resonating with a palpable passion and anguish; the jangly “Following Through,” which culminates in a dreamy falsetto on the choruses; and the perfect, transcendent “Time Bomb.” I’m also completely in love with the way this album is sequenced, tracks flow easily into each other, often segueing directly into the next track without a pause, each track the perfect follow-up to the one before. Check out the way “Following Through” slowly descends into “Time Bomb,” or how “Sentimental Man” drifts into “The Face of the Earth” for just two examples of what I mean.

To make a long review short (lost cause at this point), I love it. Change is about as close to being perfect as it can be, the next best thing to having the band play live in my living room on demand for my personal enjoyment. I expect to be listening to Change at the same frequency I did Emergency & I (sorry, all you other bands waiting for reviews). It’s no wonder that The Dismemberment Plan have become one of my favorite bands; in a world where few things can live up to my expectations of them, The Plan never fail to exceed my very high standards. As I told a friend recently, “all must know The Plan.”

Desoto Records: http://www.desotorecords.com • The Dismemberment Plan: http://www.dismembermentplan.com

Categories
Bantam's Don't Be's

Don’t Be So Concerned About What Others Think

Don’t Be So Concerned About What Others Think

Why is it so hard for people to be themselves? Why are we so afraid of what others are going to think and say? Haven’t times changed? Isn’t everything accepted these days? Just who, exactly, is everyone trying to be? And why, exactly, do you think that I can help?

Most of the time I’m at work when you people come up to me. You’re always asking why it is that others don’t like you. Sometimes you even want me to break it down to specifics and tell you what it is that you need to change about yourself. I get the impression that there is someone out there that you are trying to impress. I have this gut feeling that this someone probably doesn’t know who the fuck you are. Maybe this is not that big of a deal. Maybe you’ve got your head so far up your own ass that you really can’t be friends with anyone. That’s what I think because you won’t take advice even though you’re asking for it. You’ve got all of your answers. You’re just asking me these questions to appear like you give a shit. I tell you time and time again, don’t be so concerned about what others think, but you don’t listen. You are lost in yourself. You care so much about fitting in that you’ve made it impossible. In short, you suck.

Do you sense a bit of hostility in what I’m saying? That is because I too am someone who doesn’t like you. It is exasperating talking to you. I have my own issues to deal with. Do you really think I’m going to ponder yours? If I walked up to you and said, “Hey, what the fuck is the matter with you? Why do people hate you so much?” then I could understand your questioning me. I can understand your need to vent, but come on! Pay attention to the person you are venting to. See if they are really interested.

In the past I would radiate the image of concern. I too was worried about what people thought. Maybe that is why you spoke to me in the first place. Now I realize that I don’t care when a psycho like you feels judged. You make me want to talk to others about you. I figure they could have a good laugh when I tell them about your equivocal nature. They’ll laugh because they don’t care either.

As long as I’ve been around I’ve noticed that people only pretend to care about things because they want to seem, I don’t know, affectionate or politically correct maybe. Once something they do care about becomes affected by those things that they don’t, people will change. You may find yourself sitting alone somewhere after a long fight with a close friend wondering what it was that you said wrong. Or maybe someone has to die before you realize that there are other things to worry about then what people think. What people think is really hard to realize.