Blinded By The Light (2019)

This is a great film about Bruce Springsteen. I mean, he’s not in it (with the exception of a photo of him in the end credits) but it is very much him. Like, essence of Springsteen (worst fragrence name ever). It’s a film about the power of words and music. About how music can help you make sense of a shitty world. About how it can transcend geographical and genre boundaries, and really make you FEEL something. That’s the films biggest strength; the way it affects you on a pure emotional level.

This film has issues, not really big enough to count as flaws, more slight annoyances. There are times where Viveik Kalra’s performance isn’t QUITE what it needs to be and feels a little flat. There are other times where he completely nails the emotion, so it’s obviously not beyond him, but there are times where his performance doesn’t really work (particularly in the first half). There are some moments which aren’t needed. The opening scene, in particular, serves no purpose. It’s just a “here’s the main characters when they were children”. It kind of showcases the relationships between certain characters, but that could have been done more naturally. The music, whilst it’s good, it is a bit repetitive. There are some songs which are repeated multiple times. As such it doesn’t really compel you to go out and listen to Springsteen in the same way as Yesterday made you want to listen to the Beatles. The story is one you’ve seen before (would it be rude to call a true story “a bit cliche in parts”?). Some of the characters’ motivations aren’t clearly defined in terms of the film’s narrative, you’re not really sure what the end goal, what is the main character reaching for and aiming to achieve etc. It also has moments where entire groups of people burst into song in a way that breaks reality. We can hear the music being playing, but except for the main character nobody else can, they’re just hearing him singing, so how are they dancing to the beat of the music if they can’t actually hear it? I know that’s a really weird thing to pick out, but I’m not the biggest fan of “main characters break into song” at the best of times (which is weird as my favourite television show of the last few years is a musical) and I feel it has to be done well (and for a good reason) for it to be effective (for example, it worked PERFECTLY in Rocketman). It could be argued that it’s alluding to Bollywood tradition, merging Bollywood tropes with western music, but it doesn’t have the right atmosphere and speed for it to truly work. There are other moments with music which work a lot better. When the lyrics come up on the screen at important parts it works wonderfully and it allows you to see how the character is thinking, you can feel him connecting to those parts of the music.

It may not seem like it but I did enjoy this movie. Was incredibly heartwarming, and a lot of the supporting performances were great (Nell Williams in particular). It reminds me of a slightly below-par Nick Hornby at his best. Considering how much I love some of Nick Hornby’s stuff (High Fidelity is still one of my favourite books) that indicates how highly I rate this movie. So yeah I’d go see it. It might not be your favourite movie, but I highly doubt you’ll regret it.

Re-recording The Black Parade (take 1)

Similar to our Recasting blogs, in this new category we take a look at popular albums and dream up insane but also sometimes sensible choices for which acts we’d have cover each track…if for some reason the album was ever re-recorded or something. This week emo-poster child My Chemical Romance’s seminal album, the rock record that made people take them seriously and completely miss the point,  The Black Parade.

 

The End.Frank Turner

It’s already starts acoustic, so let’s get this record kicked off with Mr Acoustic punk himself, to toss some tables and add a true sense of honesty to it. Now this could go either way, one) it’s a slow moving purely acoustic track like Journey of the magi, that really feeds the heart. Or two) it’s a builder like Do you believe that starts acoustic then builds to a true foot-stomping, jaunty rocker.

Dead! Streetlight Manifesto

This is one of the safer choices on this list. The grandfathers of ska punk taking this fast fun rock tune and jigging it up with trumpets and rough vocals; simple but effective.

 

This Is How I DisappearBrandon Flowers

This isn’t The Killers I’m talking about. I’m talking about the right now Brandon Flowers’ solo career of glorious 80’s pop jams, and that’s what I want him to do to this. Slow it down, throw in the sexy synth and pulsating drum machines, swoon over it, and make it an 80s crooner you can dance to! Why? I don’t know. This is just the song I can see fitting that style better than any other, and because at its heart it’s still a love song.

 

The Sharpest LivesRed Hot Chili Peppers

Being one of MCR’s quickest lyrical songs, Anthony Kiedis’s rap style of singing would suit it to a tee, adding a wiry wit to the sharp lyrics of partying and drinking problems. Then throw in Flea funking up the bass, and suddenly this downer song will shine like a fun sunny day while still meditating on the dark issues of drinking ya self into an early grave. Sounds like a Chili’s song to me.

 

Welcome to the Black Parade – Andrew Jackson Jihad

The oddest choice I’d say on this list; but when it comes to a classic anthem like Welcome to the Black Parade, a song that’s such a staple of the band, there’s no point going for an act to try and match it. All you can do is give it to people who would completely change it; and that’s what this emotional and endearingly nasal, folk ska-ish band would do. Strip the grandness down to its black bones and give you the raw emotion behind the song, in an honest, cutting, but joyous fashion.

(give them a chance, they’re a grower)

I Don’t Love YouCounting Crows

One of MCR’s most swooning songs, about the realization that the love you once felt so strong has withered up and gone. So who better but the rambling beat poet-esque Adam Duritz and his roots rock group, to strip away the melodrama and bring it down to its meaning and words as he heart-wrenchingly rambles through them. It would be poetry to my ears….if only mine.

 

House of WolvesTouché Amore

This is a personal favorite of a lot of people who don’t even like My Chemical Romance. It’s a swaggering punk-rock jam; so let’s turn that up to eleven and let post-hardcore giants Touché Amore, shout it out at double volume and double the speed. It would be louder, it would be rawer, and it would pack twice the punch.

 

CancerRegina Spektor

It’s a sad song, but give it to the endlessly cheery Regina Spektor and…it would still be a sad song, but her natural quirkiness would add a new humor to contrast and emphasis the misery, and overall add new depth to this death lament.

 

MamaPoets of the fall

Poets of the fall have a lot of kinship with My Chemical Romance. They’re both theatrical rock bands with a flair for the overdramatic, though Fall’s style falls more in tune with a light operatic Rammstein. And if you’re wondering if you’ve heard them before, they did most of the soundtrack of Alan Wake. But yes, Mama; a bold, melancholy and jaunty tune that you could either strip down or build up, so let’s build this fucker up to the operatic hard rock epic this band would turn it into, till it wouldn’t sound out of place in Repo: the genetic opera.

 

SleepWhite Lies

After their seminal third album Big TV, these 80’s loving new wave rockers have become one of my most listened to on my iPod. So this song was less of a case of what band could play this song, and what song would suit White Lies synth laden ethereal style, and of cause Sleep fits perfectly. The slower, sombre tone is begging to be synth-ified and crooned out by Harry McVeigh’s baritone, which would add a dramatic, dark, danciness.

 

Teenagers Green Day

Because of course; some bands I picked because of how different they’d make the song, Green Day I picked because they could arguably do it better and punkier than MCR already did. It wouldn’t be very different but it would make it even funner, and add some needed levity to this pretty silly anthem.

 

Disenchanted Bruce Springsteen

I’m not talking about the Born to run, Born in the USA, Springsteen, I’m talking about the Youngstown, Devils and Dust, Springsteen, the stripped back folk Springsteen. That style combined with Springsteen’s world weary voice, would really bring a nuance and heartbreak to these lyrics, and turn it into an old country ballad in all the right ways.

 

Famous Last WordsRammstein

My Chemical Romance have had forays into metal once or twice, and the ender to this epic album is definitely on the side of hard rock, so who better to take it over the edge while maintaining the glory and finesse that comes with it, than the German metal gods that is Rammstein. Their fast heavy style combined with Till Lindemann’s grizzled bellow would just make this an orgastic and epic affair; the perfect way to end this bizarre genre hopping cover album.

So what do you think of this new Black Parade? Agree? Disagree? Couldn’t care less? Who would you want covering these songs? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page here.

OH SNAP! Bonus track!
BloodBob Dylan

Because it would be funny, because Dylan’s ramshackle voice and sweet melancholy could actually turn this silly little diddy into a genuine song of loss and lament. And that would be the best joke of all.

 

Come again Friday, when our other producer recounts his cast for his Black Parade!

Why we love…Explosions in the Sky

For those of you who don’t know, Explosions in the Sky are one of the forefathers of Post-rock, a genre of rock that uses “guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures” and are really the first purely instrumental band I’ve really gotten into. For those who know me (so clearly everyone who reads this…) when it comes to my music I’m all about the content.

springsteen
From his highly underrated song Youngstown, from his highly okay album The Ghost of Tom Joad

I appreciate and enjoy good music, but I can put a lot aside if I like the voice and lyrics; so your Bruce Springsteen’s, Bob Dylan’s, Gaslight Anthem’s, Tom Waits’, have always been a favorite; Explosions in the Sky has changed that.

explosions-in-the-sky-marquee

I’ll really just be talking about the band as whole over a specific album, as like all great things, I didn’t get into them one by one but all at once and all together.

albums
They have a pretty good oeuvre of album covers

I guess what sets them apart from other progressive bands, (Dream Theater and Transatlantic come to mind because of my shallow understanding of the genre), is one, length, with most songs only ten minutes or less and not up to twenty or more. And two, their pure use of progression, as they have a much deeper use of building melody, instead of just building rhythm like I’ve commonly heard in the genre. Melodies that actually build into a climax and end, not just peter out or climax and then have a warm down fuck.

EITS11_09_2007
CLIMAX!

Take the first song from their first album, A song for our Fathers, from How Strange, Innocents, or the first song from their fifth album, The Birth and Death of the Day, from All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone. Their songs never sound like they’re just showing off their technical skills like a lot of instrumental songs I’ve heard, and there’s still always this sense of structure and meaning behind the music.

Even if the words aren’t there you can still feel the meaning, the story, what’s going on behind the sound and why it was worth making at all. It’s music that can build from burying your head in the dirt, to screaming from a thousand different rooftops.

But what really helped get me into this band is how excellent it is to read and write to. As a semi-professional reader and writer I can say it’s impossible to do either with music that involve lyrics, as unsurprisingly having someone else’s words and voice in your head when you’re trying to think is pretty distracting.

writer

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Explosions in the Sky are good because they just make good background sound, they go beyond just filling in a sound gap, and actually help stimulate the mind. Helping you to focus and generate content (I’m listening to them as I write this) as their sweeping melodies soar and crash into distorted haze, and you write the best work you’ve ever put to paper, or read the best book you’ve ever held.

Explosions in the Sky are the soundtrack of the heart and soul. (And Saturday Night Lights)