LIZ VAN PAY

the ramblings of a music journalist and nearly-published author.

Posts Tagged ‘guilty pleasures

Album Review – My Chemical Romance: Danger Days

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My Chemical Romance are a guilty pleasure band for a lot of people – a band we listen to but don’t want to cop to. I am obviously one of those. Last week, I picked up their new record, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. One thing you should know about me, is if a song gets stuck in my head or I find myself singing along to it, I’m stuck with it. While genius it is not, Danger Days is definitely something different. A band not opposed to concept albums (The Black Parade being their biggest commercial success), MCR tried again with Danger Days, and did a great job. In reality, it could be considered a dance record, but its’ one of the most well thought-out storylines for a concept album in recent history, and is a fearless display by a band who had nothing to lose – already on the brink of breaking up following their last touring cycle.

In a music marketplace that’s dwindling on its’ best day, it is refreshing to hear a band take a risk, and not just churn out an album to appease their record label. While there is no doubt that The Black Parade was at least worth a listen, it seemed forced, and did not seem like the My Chemical Romance many have grown to know – though many of their diehard fans got used to the black Sgt. Pepper outfits and church-like staging at live shows. Now, expect those to be replaced with battle gear and maybe even tumbleweeds!

The concept of the album is a fictional place in the future, Battery City, California. The band members (the Killjoys) play the main characters – singer Gerard Way as “Party Poison”, bassist Mikey Way as “Kobra Kid”, guitarist Ray Toro as “Jet Star” and guitarist Frank Iero as “Fun Ghoul” – constantly packing heat in the form of ray guns to battle the Draculoids and Better Living Industries to take back their city. First single “Na Na Na” is – to put it mildly – a fun song. It’s a rollicking tune that gets stuck in your head at the first listen (if only for the repetitive ‘Na’s). While the story takes place in the audio of the songs, visuals can be found in the videos – with the video for “Na Na Na” showcasing the band members running amok trying to protect Battery City, and also boasts a battle scene with the band pitted against some unusual characters – Draculoids – which definitely helps to bring the concept of the album home. Second single, “Sing” is more of an anthem sung to infiltrate the hearts of 14-year-olds everywhere, but also to encourage its’ listeners to get off their asses and do something. Another fun piece of the album is the narration by “Dr. Death Defying”, with an intro and outro, as well as an intermission-style introduction to “Party Poison”.

With so many bands just churning out faceless, heartless music, an album like Danger Days is necessary right now. While every song is not a sterile, forced epic (as each song on The Black Parade seemed at points), it is worth a listen, maybe more. This is not the My Chemical Romance of the past, this is the My Chemical Romance of the future – and as spoken in “Na Na Na” – the future is bulletproof, and so is My Chemical Romance.

Favorite Tracks: “Vampire Money” (toe-tapping, hand clapping party time!), “Bulletproof Heart”, “Party Poison”, “DESTROYA”

Guilty pleasures and suicide pacts.

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My roommate (and the best gay boyfriend a girl could ever have) works at a concert venue here in Milwaukee. Since we started living together, we’ve instituted a game of sorts, where in some cases we go to shows we like, and in most cases we subject ourselves to shows we would never pay a dime to see. This is purely for our own entertainment, mostly because these are the brunt of the “guilty pleasures” of our respective iPods.

metrostationA few months ago, it was Metro Station. Fronted by Mason Musso and Trace Cyrus, the big brothers of Hannah Montana stars Mitchel Musso and Miley Cyrus. This band should be the biggest joke in modern music, but aren’t. Instead, they are revered as the ‘next big thing’ by tweens everywhere, and their poppy self-titled album with songs such as “Shake It” and “Control” has been the soundtrack of summers for two years running. The other two band members are rarely talked about and even more rarely seen, and the same is true of their live show. Amidst the screams of pre-pubescent girls acting as if they were at a New Kids On the Block concert in the 90’s are Musso and Cyrus, prancing around with blow-up sex dolls and disco balls decorating the stage. The screaming alone left a need for earplugs, and the music coming from the stage made me all the more thankful I had them. I hated myself for being there, but I hated myself even more when Trace Cyrus came out for the band’s encore sans shirt. His rail-thin figure was all tattoos and an outline of each and every rib, and the girls in the crowd ate that shit up like they were at George Webb’s attempting to battle an impending hangover. Before going to the show, my roommate and I made an unfulfilled suicide pact, and for good reason. It was like a night in teenage hell.

We had a dry spell.

The next show we attended half-seriously was 3OH!3 and Family Force 5. Both bands are ridiculous in their own rights, Family Force 5 Picturebut having them on the same bill was too bad to pass up. Family Force 5 are a group of 5 dudes from Atlanta (or the “drrty South” as they say in their song “Kountry Gentleman”) who play a rock-n-roll influenced style of hip-hop that would leave even those suffering from ADD hungry for more. And what’s more? They’re technically a Christian band! Their live show has far too much going on to keep everything straight, however. All five band members wore tight white jeans, blood red dress shirts, and silver sequined bowties. Lead singer ‘Soul Glow Activatur”s pants were¬† alittle TOO revealing, and he came out wearing a painted set of plastic Hulk hands for approximately half the band’s set. While watching the band run around like they were loaded with Energizer batteries and Red Bull was fun, their antics got old after about twenty minutes. After 3OH!3 came onstage, the screaming and dancing began, and most of the set was spent wondering if the floor would be able to handle the impact of a couple thousand people jumping on it at a time. The band’s two “singers” both looked like they needed a shower and some deodorant, but who between their samples were actually somewhat entertaining. One thing that we noticed about this show, however, was the fact that 3/4 of those attending were under the age of 18, and most of the venue was full of people who were unaware of the existence of Degree and Tic-Tacs…judging by the body odor and bad breath of those in attendance.

These are just two examples of the bullshit we put each other through for a good laugh. This will not be the end, but is the beginning of a long life of teenager-induced headaches and unfulfilled suicide pacts.

This post was originally written via Sidekick in April, 2009.

Written by Liz Van Pay

August 26, 2009 at 11:40 pm