Tag Archives: The Ataris

Positively Charged

PositivelyCharged

Being positive all the time is hard, y’know?

Life throws all bunch of challenges at you, and you’re expected to stay positive in outlook through all of it; that old adage: dance like no-one’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt before.

But thinking – and feeling – positive, even in the face of continuing disappointment and crushed hopes, is kind of difficult. It takes an awful amount of strength to keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off after every, daily setback or failed enterprise and to keep marching on to claim the dream that you have in your <head/heart>. Each knock to your confidence makes you question: why do things so rarely ever work out?

The most recent months have not, in all honesty, been particularly easy for me: things have rarely conspired to go my way, or to shed an arc of light upon some sort of bright glow at the end of the tunnel indicating that things might not always be like this. I know that I’m not the most unfortunate soul out there, and that there are quite literally billions of poorer, far more deserving people out there than me, but that doesn’t diminish that things – for me – are still what could be described as “less than ideal”.

Yes, I am what I would probably describe as “painfully single”. Beneath my cold, obsidian carapace lies a deeply warm heart, and I wish that there were someone else to share it. Now, I’m not suggesting that I’ve been alone the longest time nor that I’m the only single 30-year old person; but that doesn’t resolve the inward struggle that feels like everyone else is Living the Dream™ while I’m left feeling stagnant and still on the launch pad. Keeping the fire alive that you’ll be taking off soon (and that the perfect co-pilot is out there, somewhere) is tough. My journey through single life has been kind of an uncharted one, full of rocky chasms and perilous rope bridges. It’s been made evermore frustrating given that almost everyone else I know has managed to figure it all out by now and returned home for tea ‘n’ medals, whilst I’m still out in the jungle. Clearly, for probably more reasons than my brain would like to boil it down to, I’ve not found the person that’s right for me and vice versa.

And you know what? That’s not my fault. We are all just particles of chaotic matter; drawn together by mere gravity and our own feelings and desires. There’s no great plan; no right that each of us have to happiness. Having faith that ‘everything will work out in the end’ is like having faith in some watchful deity; a faith that the story that each of us are playing out will conclude with the words “…happily ever after.” In truth, there is no set path through the petrified forest of human existence and all we can do is try to survive the things that are trying to kill us or drag us into the darkness to be consumed. The brief patches of clearing where light chances to shine through are simply a chaotic anomaly that brings temporary respite from the shadows.

The frequency of light for all of us is, of course, random; we have no right to bask in the warm photons of love and affection, but when you’re struggling through the woods feeling cold and shadowed and alone, that’s of little comfort. We are all unique and complex and beautiful: using the perceived “successes” of others (or those portrayed in the Hollywood fairytale machine) as a benchmark for our own quest is not a monstrously constructive method of pushing forward in life, because all it does it is force you to conclude that it’s something personal rather than circumstantial misfortune. Matters of the heart are so complex and difficult because they rely on matters of another person’s heart, too. In many ways, that’s what makes them so special; when the matters lock together and coalesce to pull together as one chemical bond. When such an elemental connection is not forthcoming, though, it’s easy to think that everyone else is part of some elaborate conspiracy; as if they’ve all, purposefully and collectively, conspired to deny you dating or romantic success as part of some world-reaching Grand Plan.

There is no Plan. It’s just bad luck; misfortune, whatever you want to call it. Things just haven’t happened yet, but they will, because that’s how randomness and chaos. You don’t, necessarily, need to have faith that everything “will work out in the end”; you just need to have faith that this won’t last forever. What needs to be borne in mind is that – sooner or later – luck will change; the unpredictable winds of chemistry will blow in the perfect direction to change circumstances for the better. It may sound weird, but I can take comfort from the fact that my own local minimum is because of the nature of chaotic particle motion and not because I’m inherently broken or defective nor because of some joy-obstruction cosmic deity; it’s just that chaos hasn’t yet created the perfect conditions under which my particular story will thrive.

Weirdly, ‘luck’ can act a lot like an attractive, pseudo-magnetic material: once a little bit of it starts clinging to you, then you feel like you’re attracting a whole bunch more of it. Once you start ignoring the fact that there’s no mystical force governing ‘luck’, you start to realise that its chaotic nature is merely governed by how you approach the world. Give the world a bit of a wink ‘n’ smile, and you’re well on the way towards letting some good things happen. It’s the corniest line in the bible of corny lines, but the only way to properly survive the hyper-cyclone of bullshit that Life™ throws at you is to just purse your lips and whistle; that’s the key. In the meantime, the best way to deal with bad luck is to say “fuck you, bad luck”, walk out of the door with your chin up and a smile on your face, and get on with your day.

So yeah, fuck misfortune; I’m approaching the world with a beaming smile and, sooner or later, I’ll stumble upon the right thing. In the words of a great thinker: “The only thing that matters is just following your heart, and eventually you’ll finally get it right.

[Zinar7]

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My Life in Music III: Dancing Through Sunday

Music_3

Continuing from yesterday’s post (link), here’s the third part of my quest to examine and document my favourite full-length records from each year that I have been alive. This post covers my third seven years: 1999-2005, in which I flip-flop between goth-punk, post-hardcore, epic symphonic power metal and electro-house. Tomorrow will mark my final post of this series, checking off the last seven years to date, and covering everything up to 2012.

But without me waffling on for even longer, let’s get this done:

2005: Thrice – Vheissu

Vheissu

Thrice have always been a mighty band, but none more so than on Vheissu: where 2003’s The Artist in the Ambulance hit the post-hardcore chord square in the face, the follow-up attempts something far more ambitious. There’s a far more melodic tack on Vheissu than Thrice display previously, but that’s not to say that there’s any lack of power on show: ‘Between the End and Where We Lie’ is just as hard-hitting as anything else the band have delivered.  The band draw inspiration from other sounds, and sciences, that diversify the soundscape; embracing touches of electronic and instrumental sounds to accent Thrice’s raw, honed, sludgy post-hardcore. There are more progressive elements as well, and sounds that only permeate into the brain upon numerous listens before they really take hold. Where The Artist in the Ambulance felt like the work of a band of supreme competence but perhaps not confidence, Vheissu is the product of a group who’re confident to branch out and hollow out a niche of individuality in a sea of imitators and luminaries. It pays off supremely, conluding with the authoritative ‘Stand and Feel Your Worth’ and the haunting ‘Red Sky’, drawing the curtain on a true classic.

Song Choice: [Image of the Invisible]

2004: Rhapsody – Symphony of Enchanted Lands, Part II

Rhapsody - Symphony of Enchanted Lands II

Symphonic/power metal hasn’t had a strong showing on this list, despite the significant amount of it that I seem to funnel into my ears; well, here’s changing that. The mighty Italians’ 2004 opus delivers another slab of their Tolkien-flavoured fantasy ‘Hollywood’ metal; once again expertly mixing their trademark bombastic, symphonic landscape of orchestral metal with Fabio Lione’s soaring vocals. Aside from the gripping musical backdrop, the real innovation is the pitch-perfect narration from Christopher Lee; now a knight of the realm and a firm fixture in the Rhapsody/Rhapsody of Fire/Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody canon. Rhapsody’s brand of epic, orchestral, symphonic metal sure as hell ain’t subtle (there’s genre-standard songs about dragons, mages and orc-slayers a-plenty), but it’s performed with a superlative level of bombast that must rival some of the best contemporary songwriting and mucisianship which are present in the field. Alongide its 1998 predecessor, Symphonic of Enchanted Lands II remains a peak in the elegant Rhapsody back-catalogue, and (undoubtedly) the background noise for a million D20 rolls.

Song Choice: [Unholy Warcry]

2003: AFI – Sing the Sorrow

2001

First things first, let’s get some things straight: Sing the Sorrow is my favourite album ever ever ever. It’s unlikely that any other record will have such a special place in my heart nor surpass it from my thinking that it is utterly, unashamedly perfect in every single way. I don’t think it’s the greatest album ever made (Discovery, discussed below, must surely take that accolade), but its extraordinary connection with both my ears and my heart mean that, to me, it is the greatest musical achievement in mankind’s history. It’s also proof of the ever-evolving AFI sound; ditching the goth-hardcore-punk from The Art of Drowning and encompassing a whole raft of new musical ideas and themes. The fact that it’s also a well-veiled concept album about life, death and rebirth (complete with the still-unsolved Clandestine/337 mystery) mean that there’s a remarkable depth to this record that, a decade on, still has only scratched the surface. I will never tired of this album; radiate, recognise one silent call as well all form one dark flame.

Song Choice: [Girl’s Not Grey]

2002: Finch – What It Is To Burn

WhatBurn

Sadly, Finch’s lifetime as band was too short-lived; disbanding in 2006 before they really had time to get into their stride. What it is to Burn remains a prime slab of the early-noughties explosion of top-score post-hardcore (rhyming semi-intentional) that hasn’t withered an inch in time. It remains true to its hardcore roots, with plenty of crushing guitars, slamming drums and melodically-screamed lyrics pouring out emotion before the scene was diluted and curtained by aesthetic and hairstyles. ‘Letters to You’ sticks out as a classic, but the true glories lie in the more experimental excursions from the genre stock: the aptly-titled ‘Project Mayhem’ is a vision of organised chaos featuring Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw, whilst the progressive, swirling ‘Ender’ and ‘What It Is to Burn’ conclude a record that draws inspiration from many sources but which is adapted into a definitive Finch noise-scape. The follow-up, 2005’s Say Hello to Sunshine would dilute the composition, but What It Is to Burn remains a staunch reminder of the band’s post-hardcore talents.

Song Choice: [Letters to You]

2001: Daft Punk – Discovery

Discovery++PNG

As I alluded to in the mini-review of Sing the Sorrow, I genuinely think that Daft Punk’s masterpiece, Discovery, is the greatest musical achievement of this century, if not ever. Of course, being a super-nerd for everything The Robots put out makes me more than a little biased, but from the opening notes of ‘One More Time’, there’s no denying the album’s influence on the whole genre of Electronic Dance Music; repercussions can be felt further afield, too. With the rise of The Robots reaching higher peaks with the glorious Random Access Memories in 2013, there’s been a resurgence in disco-tinged electro/pop, the roots of which can be found here. Discovery‘s first few tracks are a lesson in how to put together a genuinely-staggering streak of  brilliance: from the sublime opening of ‘One More Time’, through ‘Aerodynamic’, ‘Digital Love’ and ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’, that’s almost a ‘Best Of’ Daft Punk right there. The rest of the record doesn’t disappoint, and concludes with the ten-minute epic ‘Too Long’ which recalls much of their 1996 debut, Homework, reminding just about everyone why Daft Punk are the best people in the business.

Song Choice: [Digital Love]

2000: AFI – The Art of Drowning

ArtDrowning

To their credit, AFI have always pushed the boundaries and their musical talents; aside from their early hardcore/punk releases, no two AFI albums sound the same. Where its predecessor Black Sails in the Sunset added increasingly dark & gothic influences to their punk stylings, The Art of Drowning relinquishes yet more hardcore tones and adds a Tim Burton-esque atmosphere to proceedings. In addition to those presented on Alan Forbes’ exquisite cover art, dark themes permeate through waspish tracks like ‘Sacrifice Theory’, ‘A Story at Three’ and well-chosen single ‘The Days of the Phoenix’, and AFI finally tame the goth-punk, Misfits-esque beast that they’d been wrestling  with for the past two albums. The band also reached a career-peak in the wolfish howls and “wo-oah”s that ventilate the band’s fast-paced backing and the result is a perfectly-refined and well-honed goth-punk record; streamlined, crafted and perfected to the delight of the band’s older fans. As ever, we remain, in shadows; growing wings.

Song Choice: [Days of the Phoenix]

1999: The Ataris – Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits

The_Ataris_-_Blue_Skies,_Broken_Hearts...Next_12_Exits

If there was ever to be a punk soundtrack to break-ups and heartache, then there’s a fair chance that it would be entirely filled with songs by The Ataris. Kris Roe is the undoubted God of heartbreak, weaving his emotive lyrics delightfully into catchy, three-minute pop-punk songs, and Blue Skies… typifies the best cuts from the Ataris canon. To me, The Ataris were always the most heartfelt of bands that rose to glory during the punk rock/emo ascendancy of the late 90s/early 00s: they pitch-perfect straddled the two genres, welcoming both the skatepunks, the indie kids and everything in between. Each song a window into Kris Roe’s relationships and life, it felt like Dawson’s Creek to the tune of pop-punk, and delightfully so. ‘San Dimas High School Football Rules’ remains the crowning glory, but in actuality this is a flawless compendium of punk rock with a ferocity that would be tamed in later releases. Still wild, still relevant; never forgotten.

Song Choice: [San Dimas High School Football Rules]

[Zinar7]

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