Monday, October 11, 2010

Waiting for the End - Linkin Park Review

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Linkin Park. I like them for their music, I like them for their art. They make my ears and eyes happy.

Well, to be honest, they made my ears happy with Hybrid Theory. My ears were still happy with Meteora (though, to be honest, Meteora was more like a continuation of Hybrid Theory). By the time Minutes to Midnight came out, Linkin Park was sounding like a cheap photocopy of their previous selves. Kind of like a band trying to sound like Linkin Park.

The artwork was still pretty cool though.

So, I've been hanging around, faking some sort of interest about their upcoming "Thousand Sands" out of some sense of fan loyalty, while all along, I've known that pretty much, I'm just hoping to get some new cool Linkin Park Artwork.

So, when I heard Waiting for the End, I cried.

Well, I didn't cry, but it made me happy enough to consider crying.

I suspect this song is going to polarize their fans. They're probably going to lose a HUGE section of their fanbase because this song contains:

  1. No rap from Shinoda

  2. No screamo from Chester

  3. A distinctly reggaeton sound

But I love it. For the first time in a while, I feel like I'm hearing honesty from the band. They've decided to do what they want to do, and forget trying to please the fans. I guess it must be tough when your job depends on making millions of people happy. I suspect it is easy to forget what makes you happy, and get so caught up in keeping the anonymous masses (and record labels) happy.

But this song, though one of their saddest musically, and lyrically, seems to have been played with the joy of being honest about doing something they like.

So LP, thanks for being so brave.

Watch Waiting for the End here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Superpowers: Episode 06

Before you begin to compose your hate mail, I should categorically state that I'm sure the Ghanaian members of parliament are perfectly aware of the effects of the military regime on their current constitution review process.

I should also state that I didn't even know that Ghana was reviewing their constitution, let alone that it is affected by some military regime of which I knew nothing.

However, for some weird reason, Punky knows.

There we were, having the same conversation about Kenya's constitution review process and how the politicians were messing it up.
'Poli' in Latin means 'many' and 'tics' means 'bloodsucking creatures'.
So, I assumed that as usual we'd spend some minutes cursing at the politicians, make some vague reference to Dan Toro, and then steer the conversation towards whether Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy is a slammin' album or not.

But then suddenly, Punky is cross-referencing Kenya's situation with what's happening in Ghana vis-à-vis the constitutional politics in Iran. So, I awkwardly find myself in an intellectual discussion, when all I wanted was an excuse to babble noisily, and distract everyone until band practice time is over.

And it's not just history, she has this in-depth knowledge of all current events (from the surgery to be used on Rooney to the basslines in the Posies' songs). This is very confusing,. Her day job tends to take her to the more remote areas of the country, where the only human interaction is occassionally fighting off machete wielding land-owners. I doubt any of them are offering newspapers, so how does she keep up?

So beware... Punky knows.


stand alone player

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Superpowers: Episode 05

A couple of weeks back, I got to attend a Penya concert at the Museum. For those who don't know, Penya is a Nairobi-based based record label, home to (among others) Dela, Sauti Sol, Stan, Muthoni and Just a Band.

Anyway, the concert seemed to highlight everything I hate and love about record labels.

The Good of Record Labels:

When a band is it's own record label, the largest portion of time goes towards managing the gig. You make your own posters. Send out the advertisements. Harass your family and friends who owe you favours to show up. Beg random people off the street to come in for free. And then, you're checking. Is there power? Did the sound guy show up? Where is my guitar? Is it in tune? Where is the drummer? What's the song list?

By the time we get on stage, we're usually tired, frazzled, annoyed at each other, and whatever make-up we had on is falling off in large, unattractive chunks.

If, on the other hand, a band gets signed to a label the process is simpler: The artistes arrive. The artists do sound checks. The artists get to chill out and get adored by their fans. The artists play their set. And then, there's a party while the roadies pack up the drums and sound equipment.

Really, it seems like it must be awesome to not have to worry about crappy sound, crappier venues and no advertisement for shows.

The Ugly of Record Lables

Here was the show line up.
  1. Just a Band
  2. Muthoni
  3. Stan
  4. Dela
  5. Sauti Sol
Now, don't get me wrong, since I'm actually a HUGE fan of Sauti Sol, but sometimes, I get the feeling that the other artists get sacrificed at the altar of Sauti Sol. I guess that their reasoning is that since Sauti Sol are the biggest earner, the other artists will forever remain curtain raisers for Sauti Sol? Plus, how good can this be for Sauti Sol either? At the Love Is Show, Sauti Sol finally got on stage at 1.30 am, at a show that started at 9pm. (AFter people had been standing around since 7pm, waiting for the show to begin).

So for 4.5 hours, people had been on their feet, in the cold, dancing, etc. By the time Sauti Sol got on stage, a couple of my pals had given up and gone home.

I braved the cold. The exhaustion. Slight deafness due to my position near the speakers. Alplha's performance. (Which actually wasn't bad. It's just that by that time, I was tired, and wanted to listen to "Nairobi" and Alpha just kept singing).

Then, finally, when Sauti Sol arrived on stage and began...

I fell asleep.

In the cold. Standing up. With the speakers blaring right next to me. And surrounded by shrieking fans. While Sauti Sol performed.

So yeah, I can sleep through anything.

Lovely super-power that one :-)

NB. If a major record label offers, I'm SO THOROUGHLY selling out and signing on.
NB2. These may not be the views of the rest of the band though.
NB3. I categorically state that I have never slept through a performance by Bloodshed, they're awesome.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Superpowers: Episode 04

Nothing prepared me for the fights.

If you google "Bands", the internet offers lots of information. How to start a band. How to play the harmonica. How to practice. How to get gigs. How to perform at gigs. How to write songs. How to record songs. How to copyright your songs. Qualities to look for in a pair of drumsticks...

I'm an information junkie, so as Murfy's fLaW was plodding around, being a band, I was pretty confident that I was prepared for every aspect of the rock and roll lifestyle.

No one warned me about the fights.

Last year, Oasis announced they were breaking up. From wikipedia:
On 28 August 2009, a fight broke out between the Gallaghers in a backstage area which resulted in Liam breaking Noel's guitar.

Two hours later a statement from Noel appeared on the band's website writing that "with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight. People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer."
So, the moral of this little story, dear reader, is that if you join a band you are going to fight.

These fights will lead to the breaking of guitars, hearts, lifelong friendships and the band. The only way you can prevent this from happening is to have someone with the super-power of Peace Making in the band.

  • Someone with the courage to swoop down in the middle of the most bitter arguments, bearing wonderful things like clear rational thinking.

  • Someone who also knows when clear, rational thinking just isn't enough, and then bribes you with cheap wine, Chinese food, or stories about "what the dog did yesterday".

  • Someone who knows when bribes won't work, and uses her drum sticks to literally batter you back onto the right path.

And suddenly, there is sunshine again.

Thank God for Vicky.