Friday, September 23, 2011

blink-182; Neighborhoods

Seven years, ten months and five days after the release of their self-titled record makes September 23, 2011 a very important date for blink-182 fans. Today is the day that the band’s sixth studio album, and first since their ‘indefinite hiatus’ back in 2005, entitled ‘Neighborhoods’ is set to be released.

Having stood outside my local CD store waiting for the doors to open, it’d be an understatement to say that I was excited, and a little bit impatient, to finally hear this album. In all honesty I was as nervous as hell as to what this record would bring, but after multiple listens of this long-awaited record, I think it's safe to say I wholeheartedly approve of 'Neighborhoods'.

It is without a doubt blink-182's darkest album to date, both lyrically and musically. They've definitely matured and incorporated into their music what they've all experienced during the past 8 years. In many respects it's as if they've simply picked up where they left off with their last record, except this time there's no question that this level of maturity suits them. After all, during the time of their eponymous album they were still seen as that band who sang that “cute ‘Na Na Na’ song” and who ran naked through their music videos. This time however, after almost a decade, life has naturally forced them to mature; they've grown up and progressed.

While 'Neighborhoods' stands as this dark and mature album, there are definitely throwbacks to their previous records, as well as hints of their side projects away from blink-182, which are definitely evident throughout the album.

The opening track, 'Ghost On The Dance Floor', is quite indicative of the album as a whole in terms of the overall theme and sound of the record. It’d be fair to say that it’s almost a sequel to ‘Not Now’. There are numerous references to death, hopelessness and self-doubt all the way through the record, but the second track, 'Natives', is perhaps the song in which these themes are most prevalent. Lyrics such as ‘I’m just a waste of your time/ Maybe I’m better off dead’ accentuate the darkness present on the album and paint a pretty good picture for what to expect. The third track, and first single off the record, ‘Up All Night’, is a reflection on the harsh reality of human behaviour and the struggles we all face through the eyes of a perceptive observer. As a single it had people confused, however in amongst the other tracks on the record it works well in context. The fourth track on the album, ‘After Midnight’, is a love song of sorts, an ode to a masochistic and destructive relationship, best captured through the verses, with lines like ‘I kind of like the rush you get/ When you’re standing close to death/ Like when you’re driving me crazy’. ‘Snake Charmer’ follows next with a song that is essentially about women and the evil lust and desire they use to coax men into getting what they want. It has a mixture of heavy guitars and an intro that is quite reminiscent of The Cure. ‘Interlude’ then provides a short instrumental break built upon a piano and a spacey guitar riff, a brief departure from the heaviness of the record before leading itself into the seventh track. ‘Hearts All Gone’ is one of the more fast paced punk rock tracks on the record that could easily be mistaken as a song that got lost during the recording of ‘Dude Ranch’ and that has now been re-recorded to become relevant for this particular record. However, amongst all the darkness some light can be found in the form of the eighth track, ‘Wishing Well’, with it’s catchy 'la da da' chorus. In true-to-form blink-182 fashion, this song has a more upbeat pop feel which is quite reminiscent of ‘Enema Of The State’. The ninth track, ‘Kaleidoscope’, is very much a song about the recording of the album. It is a return to the darkness of the earlier tracks, with lyrics full of fear and uncertainty as to what this journey holds; ‘It is the first time that I’m worried/ … It’s a long road to get it right’. Almost acting as a counterbalance to the paranoia of the previous song, ‘This Is Home’ is a pure rock song about the punk rock scene and how they, blink-182, want each other to ‘let go/ ‘Cause this is home’. ‘MH 4.18.2011’, another straightforward rock effort, has Mark singing of repression and the struggle of trying to grow in such an environment. His advice; ‘Slow down/ Stop living in the shadow of a helicopter’. Set to be the final track on the standard version, ‘Love Is Dangerous’ is a track that for me is their greatest departure from their previous material. It has a somewhat theatrical quality to it, with Tom’s declarations of ‘love/ Love is dangerous’ in the chorus. Track thirteen on the deluxe edition, ‘Fighting The Gravity’, is without a doubt a fitting song title as the music itself has this heavy and sluggish feeling about it, as if you’re actually being held back and pulled down. The lyrics provide the description and the music makes you a part of it. The final track on the album, ‘Even If She Falls’, sees one last return a catchy and upbeat melody, much like the feel good song at the end of a film that leaves you feeling satisfied.

‘Neighborhoods’ is a testimony to blink-182’s longevity, regardless of their split, and their ability to remain relevant. It is a brave, bold and beautiful record that sees the band harmoniously bringing together their array of ideas and influences to create an album that is without a doubt some of the best music they’ve produced.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Long time, no write..

So much time has passed since my last entry here you'd think I'd have a million things to write about! Well, unfortunately, that's not the case. Pretty much this entire year has consisted of me doing the same old thing, day in, day out. However, in the passed few weeks I think I've finally started to get somewhere and form some kind of idea as to what I'm actually going to do next year..

I used to want to write, and I'm not ruling it out entirely, but for now that's just not what I want to do. I then started toying with the idea of perhaps studying psychology, cos I do have quite an interest in that area. But again, I can't see myself wanting to do that right now. Then I figured I need to sit down and think about what I'm interested in and what I can see myself enjoying. It didn't take very long for me to come to the conclusion that if I'm ever going to settle down I need to first get travelling out of my system. And for those that know me, they all know that the one place I've been itching to visit is Canada. Whether that mean I move to Canada for a few years and study or work there, or just simply take a trip there, I don't know. All I do know is that until I've actually been there, I'm going to constantly imagine some sort of life over there that I don't have here in Australia. With this in mind a few ideas started to take shape. The one that sits most comfortably with me, in the long run, is to perhaps do flight attending, or some kind of work that involves working at an airport. I love everything about airports and can definitely see it as being an environment I would enjoy working in.

With this being the 'dream' at the moment, it gives me something to at least start aiming towards and it gives me motivation to actually find courses I might be interested in doing. One reason why travelling and airports appeal to me so much is because I love languages. A part from my own keen interest in learning another language, this gives me the perfect incentive to go out and actually learn a second language, or at least the fundamentals. Having done Japanese at a VCE level, I'd love to continue on with that, as well as also taking up French. After all, French ties into my Canadian obsession as I really want to spend some time in Quebec. I understand that there are some differences between French and French Canadian, but knowing some basic French would be better than knowing nothing at all.

Now that I've actually been able to figure out what I'm interested in doing, it's been much easier to go out and start looking for ways to make this happen. Today I went to the Youth Information Centre in town and explained my situation to the lady there, about how I'm a deferred university student who doesn't really want to go down that track and if she could point me in the right direction to something more suited to what I want to do. She was very helpful and gave me a booklet full of short courses at Chisholm TAFE, which is exactly the type of thing I was looking for. University holds no interest for me.. I hated school and can't bring myself to go back to that sort of education. I don't want to be locked into a a 4 year course at university. The idea of that just freaks me out. I'd much rather a series of short courses that I have the option of furthering if I wish to. Chisholm offer short courses at various different levels for both Japanese and French, which is fantastic. It means I can start with the very basics of French and progress however I want to. Ultimately I'll still be learning these languages, just in a way that I'm more comfortable with. Also, there's hospitality courses that I think I would benefit from doing, such as a Bar Attendants course or Responsible Serving of Alcohol. It wouldn't hurt to at least have these skills up my sleeve. Not to mention there's also a course for Flight Attendant Interview Training, so down the track that could very well come in handy.

This is pretty much where I am at the moment in terms of my ideas for schooling and what I want to do next year. I'm also still in the progress of looking for a job. It has not been easy at all! I know the fact that I'm so incredibly picky doesn't help, but still, I think I might be getting somewhere. I've handed my resume out to places that are looking for applicants. I don't want to get my hopes up, because with my luck I shouldn't expect anything, but I'm really hoping to get a job at Sanity. Of all the places that I've applied, that's the one I really want. Again, it's about feeling comfortable in my work environment, and I'd feel so comfortable working at a music store! So fingers crossed.

Onto something that's even more exciting than my future (that was sarcasm, by the way. My future is not exciting..), I have tickets to see Simple Plan in October! Let me tell you, I haven't felt this excited for something in a very long time! As a member of the SP Crew, I've also been able to put my name down to get on the list to their soundcheck party before the concert! Oh, if I get to see them twice in one day.. it'll blow my mind. I simply cannot wait for this show! Honestly, this band is the source of my current motivation. I owe quite a lot to these five guys. I could go on forever about my excitement levels for this coming show, so I'm going to save you from my insanity by shutting up now.