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Friday, June 24, 2005

My top 10 rock bands!! (Finally something not so psycho!!)

Amongst the many mechanisms that I've chosen to soothe the friction against the very harsh reality that everyday routine seems to bring around, one of the most powerful is my Discman. It might be a moment when the situation is just unbearable, when I feel down or simply when I feel like taking a break from so much sticky mediocrity.

I've been doing that for almost ten years now, and I've come to make my little own top 10 of what I consider to be the best rock bands alive. So without further ado, let me explain my criteria for such honorful choosing!

1. Livin'

The group must be alive and touring or recording or getting hammered at the local joint.

2. Originality

How can I explain this? Well, these guys had to somehow reinvent rock so it stuck into my head without ever leaving again.

3. Power

Sometimes this means raw violence, sometimes this means raw beauty, sometimes is both, but it has to blow me away.

4. Technique

Yep, this also matters, they gotta rock their gear.

And here are, from 10th to 1st, my nominees:

10: Slipknot
I've quite recently become hooked on these guys. At first their image kind of kept me away, they looked like the average costume-party-invitees that populate death and doom metal. But once I heard duality, I had to face the awesome power that these guys harness with their music.

Afterwards I got to hear Vermillion and some of the other works, and I was forever hooked.

A lot of musicians, a great emphasys on drums and loudness, very straightforward lyrics and drops of sheer genius on their playing make for a fitting 10th.

9: Garbage
When I first heard them, it was Queer, both the name's song and the whole sensation of hearing this eerie music led by a beautiful, sexy and determined voice. I'm only happy when it rains seemed to be the perfect depiction of our ironic ways of living. I thought they were good.

And after listening to their 3rd album (Version 2.0.) it became clear that these guys were seriously good. They merged electronic psychedelia with hard guitars, sweet melodies and brutal lyrics.

Their later CD's have been good, not quite as impressive as Version 2.0., but quite awesome anyway, and some of their B-sides are simply brilliant, such as their contribution to the Romeo & Juliette Soundtrack (a kick ass soundtrack, BTW) and their very own legacy to the 007 tradition with the bleak The world is not enough.

And they keep on playing. Life is good.

8: Korn
No one knew exactly what hit them when these bad boys shook the radios almost 10 years ago with "Shoots & Ladders" first and with "Blind" afterwards. Just when everyone thought that a signature rock sound wasn't possible anymore, they introduced the organic groove weaved by the slap bass, the scratchy, almost hip hoppy guitar and the erratic, yet precise voice of that huge frontman called Jon Davis.

And they mirrored anger and frustration and sweetness in their lyrics, hitting us all where it hurt the most. Their following CD's just seemed to keep on driving the nails deeper and deeper inside the collective spirit. Life is Peachy, Follow the Leader and Issues seemed to bring more and more loathing, trying to cure those festering wounds that modern western society bears all over its decaying body. Their latest effort seems not so angry at first, but it seems as if there's still stories to be told by these really ill-disposed fellas.

7: Nine Inch Nails
There's simple facts in life, like the fact that Trent Reznor is a freakin' genius and Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor. A very twisted mind that has managed to share that self indulgent, beautiful but at the same time noisy, chaotic, furious and caustic galaxy that floats in Reznor's head.

NIN has recorded songs that range from the almost teenage sweetness of The Fragile to the senseless violence of March of the Pigs, visiting the hallucinogenic lovey obsession of The perfect Drug and dwelling on the almost sadistic sexuality of Closer to God. No matter what this guy records, one thing is for sure, like it or not, you're going to pay attention to his songs.

6: Coldplay
Sometimes the emotions don't bear the heads of the dragon and the anger of the predator, sometimes they fly with angel's wings and appeal with the sweetness of hope and melody. A band heavily influenced by some british bands of legend -such as the Beatles- and more recent marvels -such as Radiohead-, Coldplay reminds us that sometimes we are sensible, hopeful and sometimes even, gasp, optimistic.

While they could be considered as the most typical pop available, the truth is that these guys don't take particular delight in revisiting old formulas -like typical teen love or masochistic self destruction- sometimes they just seem to be making music to make you feel good without needing an unforgettable kiss, an excruciating orgasm or a frenzy of hysterical massacres.

Y'know, sometimes feeling good is allright...

5. Deftones
While most people will agree that "Korn is the master and Deftones the apprentice", I find a lot more identified with the Deftones phenomenon. Being more of a guitar person than a rhytm person, I find Deftones raw hardcore aggresivity much more genuine and powerful.

Their first CD unleashed the unholy power of a song called 7 Words, later followed by more hissing violence with Bored and Engine No. 9. And their second album accomplished the impossible: a darker, harder and even more scarring sound. Their classic My own summer (shove it) earned much attention with that hypnotic, evil and weird riff that is the backbone of the song.

Their 3rd work, White Pony, while a little less agressive, still delivered truckloads of power and mind-blowing with such jewels as Change (In the house of flies), Digital Bath and Back to School, while starting to show a much more melodic side of the band. And their latest, self-titled CD, brings back some of the power level of the first days with Hexagram, while progressing on their melodies with the almost epic Minerva.

I hope they keep on going, I really need that adrenaline rush sometimes.

4. System of a Down
Just as we mourned the loss of one of the most political bands of all time (Rage Against the Machine) these iron-curtain inmigrants and descendants burst yet another hole in the fabric of history with their first CD. But their real breakout was in the form of the paranoic, eardrum shattering blitzkrieg called "Chop Suey". And then it was Toxicity, and Aerials....

Their 3rd album couldn't come in a better (or worst) moment. Steal this album hit the shelves just in time to witness the Iraqui war and the brutal display of power exerted by an abusive country with a medieval-minded leader. And their songs were the soundtrack for the indignation of a world that witnessed the horrors of a crafted war, specially "boom", which was the perfect anthem of indignation for the moment.

As I write these lines, their 4th album is Taking the world by force, and these wacky, opinionated, noisy mofos seem to have a lot to say yet.

3: Pearl Jam
Yep, the surviving angle of the holy trilogy that gave birth to the 90's grunge (along with Nirvana and Soundgarden), they still keep making some of the most beautiful and moving music that the western world has heard in the last twenty years.

What started with the incredibly energetic display called Ten kept on rolling and evolving until they reached what I consider to be the best and least recognized album of the Seattle band: No Code. An almost solo work by Eddie Vedder, it's the most intimate, vulnerable and moving work I've heard from an american band.

But, in the end, there's no secret behind the band's success: they're all simply great musicians. And they might become for the next generations what the Rolling Stones are for us now: a living legend.

2. The Mars Volta.
These guys have been around for much less time than all the other bands in the list, but their intensity and overwhelming genius have earned effortlessly this spot on my list.

I first saw them on a live presentation for the MTV Latin American video awards, they were introduced by Zack de la Rocha with quite flattering words that were promptly answered by a bunch of Afro-toting wackos, with the most violent, most passionate and nerve-wracking live song I'd ever seen. The song held me in its thrall for it's whole length, and when it was over I felt like I'd been riding a rocket straight into hell. A singer that would be Robert Plant's reincarnation if Plant were dead. A guitar player that could actually be Jimi Hendrix's reincarnation (well, Jimi is dead, allright). And a team of virtuoso musicians that machinegunned a dense mix of punk, progressive rock, latin groove and pure insanity.

I ran to the computer and found that the name of the song was "Drunkship of Lanterns". I found a copy and downloaded. And I heard the glorious studio version. And then I looked for anything recorded by the Mars Volta, and then I found that there wasn't a single store in my city with the CD. I rebuilt the CD with the downloaded songs. And then somehow a copy of the De-Loused in the Comatorium found its way to the local music store. And Val gave it to me. And I heard the CD to the point of physical stress (the thing is already craking at its center).

About three months ago I learned that their second CD was in the streets. This time the word had been around, and I found the album a week later in the store. It's name: Francis the Mute. 5 songs. Ok, so maybe it's an EP. Let's hope it's good.

Forgive me guys for doubting you. Forgive me.

Francis the Mute MUST be considered amongst the best albums of the year: unconventional, experimental, fractally complex, hallucinogenic and original barely scratch the surface of Francis the Mute. In a single album, these guys have reached the level of such names as Rush, Frank Zappa, Dream Theater and other prog rock giants. Their influences? Everything ranging from the Sex pistols to Fania All-Stars, which includes other acts such as MC5, Fela Kuti, Celia Cruz, Santana, Buenavista Social Club, Ruben Blades and Led Zepellin. Their only possible single is the second song, The Widow, easily the best power ballad of the year, and you know what? This awesome song is almost lousy when compared to the rest of their CD, specially with that unstoppable, 30 minutes rock opera called Cassandra gemini, a true moment of glory and redemption for the new millenium rock.

And it's only their second album. Omar, Cedric and company, if you don't behave yourselves you might wake up one morning and realize you're the best rock band of the world.

1. Radiohead
They simply have it all: power, beauty, genius, lyricism. In one word: greatness. It's a shame that most of the people associate them with their most played and abused song, Creep. While the song is a portrait of all Radiohead's glory when it comes to mix the crooning of Thom Yorke's voice with the demented guitar of Johnny Greenwood, it also creates the image of a depression-driven emo band..

When most bands in the world sounded phony and hollow, these guys were making music as if their lifes depended of it. After their first record, Pablo Honey, they pushed the hard-rock sound in The Bends while at the same time redefining the rock ballad with such classics as High and Dry. Proving that the world was not ready for them, The Bends wasn't the commercial success their fans had expected, but it now holds a place amongst the classics.

And their third album, OK Computer, is widely considered as one of the best (if not THE best) rock recordings of the last 20 years. If you haven't heard it, you haven't lived your generation.

Afterwards, Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief have done nothing but confirm their genius. A band with such talented musicians that has chosen to completely ignore the success models developed by corporate rock and preconstructed recipes will keep on impressing us with music that echoes of our very own souls. Many of us have felts like agents or hostages of the Karma Police, many of us lick our betrayed-love scars with Fake Plastic Trees, many of us have dragged a senseless day of nothing grasping the lyrics of Street Spirit, and many of us wish we were living on a place where 2+2=5.

While many other groups will keep on arguing and clawing at their chests while the mainstream hail them as the best of the best, Radiohead keeps on playing, trascending with music that will haunt our ears for years to come.

****************

This is the music that makes me feel alive and shelters my sanity in a world plagued by cheesy bands, makeshift ideals and rotting structures. If you felt touched by any of these ramblings, go ahead and post a commentary, even if you copletely disagree with me.

And long life to rock.

3 Comments:

  • At 8:39 PM, Blogger KittyKat said…

    Hi, again I like your choice of bands, I agree in some.
    Anyway what sets me apart of you it's not pride, eres una persona especial, y tu apoyo es inigualable pero I only want you as a friend not as nothing else, you should burry me in your past, todavia quiero seguir siendo tu amiga, pero nada +.
    Att:Kittykat

     
  • At 11:38 PM, Blogger Dragon Mago said…

    Si, ya sé, por un momento es

     
  • At 11:46 PM, Blogger Dragon Mago said…

    Ay maldito internet, completando el comentario anterior:

    Si, ya sé, por un momento esperé que tu pensabas que hablaba de de otra persona, y esa otra persona pensara que hablaba de vos (you know who I'm thinking). Al final ninguna de las dos cayó en el truco.

    Rayos.

    Anyways, I plan to keep trying with Girl No.1. It's gonna be rough, long, difficult and demanding, but it feels like it's worth it.

    And just like you wrote a few pages down, you ALSO burned me hard lady.

    But about burying you, I am doing it allrighty, but don't forget that I'm a Magic player, and sometimes those critters come back from the graveyard for another run, y'know.

    So I'll be your friend, no prob about it, but while I can bury, one day I might reanimate, and removing you from the game just won't happen for now ;-)...

     

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