PROSPECTING FOR GOLD: 2010 AND BEYOND

By on October 15, 2014
Linkin Park's Chester Bennington (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

JJ Jackson Says:

Back in the 1990s, when my voice was falsetto and my face was naked, I promised myself I wouldn’t be that guy. You know what guy I am talking about. The guy that swears the music from his time was superior to all others, especially in comparison to modern music. I remember how audacious it sounded for someone to make that claim. I felt embarrassed for him, because it made him sound so antiquated and outdated. Well guess what. Twenty-some years later, I am that guy. The difference is I am right. I’m not ignorant or arrogant enough to believe the music of my youth is better than the music that preceded it. Music from the late 50s through the mid-70s very much shaped every pertinent genre of music there is. Motown laid the foundation for modern day R&B and hip hop. The Beatles simultaneously spawned modern rock and pop, all in one shot. And Black Sabbath gave us the underbelly of music, known as heavy metal. I cannot turn a blind eye to those facts. But I also cannot turn a blind eye to this fact either: modern music does suck.

Turn on pop radio. Every beat consists of dubstep bullshit created by some nerd behind a computer, and its lyrics could have been written by a third grade dropout or a monkey behind a typewriter. How about rock radio? Between Nickelback and the onslaught of scream-o bands, the rock industry may as well be producing bands on an assembly line. And rap? Pretty simple recipe. Insert lyrics about bitches, platinum grills, and drinking some expensive brand of alcohol and lay it over a dirty south beat and you’ve got yourself a club anthem. It’s all sooo…..unsatisfying. I expect more from my music. If you are over the age of 25, you probably do too.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There is some really solid music out there. You just won’t hear it on the radio, or on a commercial on TV, or at a Super Bowl halftime show. These days, if you want gold, you have to dig for it. You may catch a single on the radio here and there from a band or artist you dig, but for the most part, the ground work is up to you. So since 2010, these five records are the gems I have found buried amongst the garbage:

5) Baroness – Yellow & Green

Sludge metal is not something you will hear on any radio station. Mastodon has attempted to make it a bit more mainstream, but by doing so, has in some ways taken the sludge out of it. Both Mastodon and Baroness started in Georgia’s amazing sludge metal scene with some of the heaviest riffs written since Black Sabbath was creating the genre in the late 60s. Like Sabbath, their sound has evolved and turned into something new and refreshing. Yellow and Green by Baroness is a double release masterpiece filled with heavy riffs, psychedelic influences, traces of folk, and several instrumental pieces. It’s like a metal fan’s potpourri

4) The Roots – How I Got Over

Now this is how rap is supposed to be done. Wait, allow me to rephrase. This is how hip hop is supposed to be done. I know, I know. They are the house band for Jimmy Fallon. But in my eyes, that is one of the arguments I can point to that gives The Roots some credibility. Rather than sample every beat they use for their music, ?uestlove and company actually create their jazzy rhythms in house. <GASP!!!> A novel concept for rap groups, I know. Now take Black Thought’s insightful and ingenious lyrics into account, and you have the recipe for a fantastic hip hop outfit. I think “How I Got Over” is the best record in their entire catalog. Politics, religion, and responsibility are all underlying themes on the record. No, I am not lying. This is a rap record

3) Eminem – Recovery

Shut the fuck up, because I know what you are thinking. After I ripped on the mainstream, I give you the ultimate in mainstream records. Eminem is everywhere. There is no escaping his face or voice, unless you hide under a rock or in a cave. But as a white kid that grew up in the inner city, he is my voice. Black rappers don’t quite know what it was like for me to grow up in the city because, well….they are black. And rock groups with white faces can’t understand the things I saw or the poverty I experienced. Eminem came along and changed that. He embodied the unacceptable white trash existence that I knew and always tried to bury. He flew that flag and flew it proudly. Is Eminem the best rapper there is? Lyrically, probably not. That could be a debate for another day. What I respect about him is, rather than make his songs chock full of witty metaphors but empty content, he lays it all out there. The truth. The dirty laundry. He hides none of it. And he manages to do it with lyrical genius. He paints pictures of life that I have seen with my own eyes. When I listen to Recovery and hear songs about lost love, drug addiction, lost friendship, and being white trash, I can close my eyes and walk through my own personal art gallery.

2) Elder – Dead Roots Stirring

Elder who? Dead Roots what? Just believe me on this one friends. If you like heavy metal/rock n roll at all, this record is amazing. It has it all. The production is raw and un-manicured. The musicianship is patient and meticulous. Nothing is rushed. Each song plays like a movement rather than a stand-alone song. Take the riffs of Black Sabbath, the patience of Pink Floyd, and the stoner influences of Sleep and mash them into a beautiful little ball, and what you have left is Dead Roots Stirring. In addition to all of that, the band is still underground and humble. So if you dig what you hear, go to their Bandcamp page and help these dudes make some money.

1) Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns

Chester Bennington - LINKIN PARK (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Chester Bennington – LINKIN PARK (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

This choice sticks out like a sore thumb, I know. I go with metal, rap, rap, metal, and then end with….Linkin Park? The poster children for the nu metal machine? I can understand the confusion and the skepticism. Believe me. I questioned myself once I fell in love with the record. I found myself saying things like, “Have I sold out?” or, “Should I only listen to this when no one is around?” But the more I listened, the more I realized what a masterpiece it really is. Linkin Park, like any other good band, evolved into something much different than the band they started as. And “A Thousand Suns” is a culmination of that. The rap/metal hybrid element is almost absent from this record. It plays more like “Dark Side of the Moon” than it does like ‘Hybrid Theory.” The reason I make the comparison to Dark Side is each song alone is an awesome piece of art. But the album as a whole? Played from beginning to end? It’s hard to find a more complete album. In fact, the band sold it as a single track on iTunes for fans that wanted to buy it that way. And like any great piece of art, it can be whatever the listener wants it to be. The lyrics are so versatile, they can be applied to politics, love, or religion and all fit perfectly. “A Thousand Suns” is as well rounded of a record as I have heard in quite a while. I would name specific songs of interest, but take my word for it. Just listen to the whole damn thing. Again and again and again and again….

 

 

Joshua Ott III says:

 

ERRRRRRRRRR!!!!! HIT YOUR BREAKS there JJ!!!!

1st off let’s get something straight… NEVER, I MEAN NEVER compare Linkin Park to Pink Floyd not now, not ever!!! OK… Phewww… I almost lost my cool there. I do agree with you that the Music scene and depth of music fading, we are now handed a turd of a song and told it’s a diamond, people like Beyonce, Kanye, 1D and Green Day are just a few that come to mind. There are some great vocalists out there with decent lyrics such as Bastille and Sam Smith but they are so overdone on the radio it makes me sick. JJ, you are right that there is some good music out there but you must dig for it. Here are my top 5 albums since 2010.

5. “The Hunter” by Mastodon:

Troy Sanders, Mastodon (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Troy Sanders, Mastodon (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Metal, Rock, Sludge and Grit punches you in the face and continues to land blow after blow like a heavyweight champ putting it to his opponent in the final round. Some of the best percussion around and equally matched with dirty guitar riffs that rock you to your inner core. I truly love this album, if you like old Ozzy and old King Diamond you will love this album. I wish more people would take notice and understand that Mastodon is a powerhouse in the Metal genre. From “Black Tongue” to “The Sparrow” you will be locked in and not wanting to escape.

 

4. “Something Else” by Tech N9ne: 

It really is something else; Tech N9ne continues to cross genres of music and mesh them together into a Hip-Hop/Metal/Pop/Club/Rock/R&B symphony. Tech pulls in people that you’ve heard like Serj Tankian from System of a Down, Kendrick Lamar, and The Game. He also introduces us to newcomers like Snow Tha Product, Kendall Morgan, Tyler Lyon and Wrekonize. My favorites are “Straight Out the Gate” featuring Serj Tankian, “Fragile ft. Kendrick Lamar, Mayday and Kendall Morgan and party song “So Dope” ft. Snow Tha Product, Twisted insane and Wrekonize. Those are not the only good songs on the album but to me that sand out the most. Great beats+ great lyrics+ great delivery= GREAT ALBUM.

3. “Blunderbuss” Jack White:

NOT A BAD SONG ON THIS ALBUM!!! I promise you it is just an amazing set of songs with an eclectic smorgasbord of musicians all lead by the pale one himself JACK WHITE. I’ve been a fan since the 1st time I heard The White Stripes and have never wavered, when in doubt…. Add JACK WHITE. Rock, Blues, Bluegrass, Jazz, and everything in between, “Blunderbuss” delivers, over and over. “Love Interruption” is by far my favorite song on the album but you can’t go wrong with any of them, make sure you check out “Freedom at 21” as well…(Great Video too).  Vocally Jack White can hit anywhere on the scale, and he isn’t afraid to prove it on this album. I would rank Jack White as one of the most impressive guitarists alive right now, so if you love sock riffs you will not be disappointed at all. Jack does what Jack does best on “Blunderbuss” and that is guitar and vocals!!

 

2. “Conditions of my Parole” Puscifer:

Maynard James Keenan is one of my favorite front men in history and he doesn’t show any signs letting me down anytime soon. While it’s not the same dark and dreary style that Tool or A Perfect Circle might be it’s still Maynard and it’s still flawless. This album is well written, well sung and produced perfectly. “Telling Ghosts”, “The Green Valley” an “Tiny Monsters” are easily my top 3 tracks but don’t sleep on any of the rest, as I said it is Maynard doing his thing and that alone is better than most.

1) “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” Eminem:

Yep I too have Shady in my top 5 as well. To me this is the best album Eminem has put out, 22 tracks that just keep me nodding my head. I am sure some folks will question my love for this album but I’ll defend it tooth and nail. Look it has Em at his finest, lyrically he slays just about anybody and everybody, his delivery is still top of the game and he added some amazing samples that most wouldn’t think would work but they do, he brought in the Dr. and Jewish wonder Rick Rubin to produce a few tracks as well. “Rap God” takes the cake on this album, honestly the album would still be in my top 5 but “Rap God” just puts it over the top. “Rap God” is 6 minutes of pure rap perfection in my opinion.

Yes most music out there is total garbage and should be put on mute but there are a few rare gems out there and you have to be willing to move mountains to find them. JJ and I have given you a good start now go prospect yourself you lazy bastards!

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