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Photo credit: ©2013 DGC, Interscope Records
I figured I’d christen the new embodiment of my internet presence with something I personally consider to be sacred: music. Something I plan to do with this blog is habitually review albums; some by bands I absolutely love, and maybe some I’ve never even heard of. I guess in a way, you could consider this me going back to my roots in some way, shape, or form. My senior year of high school, I was lucky enough to intern at The Aquarian Weekly, a music newspaper that serves the New York New Jersey area. (Bias alert) It’s a fantastic publication, my mentor and the current editor, JJ, runs a tight ship over there, and it makes for one hell of a paper. I highly recommend checking it out if you have the time or live in the area.
Part of my job there was to write album reviews, which, other than shows, was probably my favorite part of the job. I would get to pick any disk from the library of albums that lined the wall in JJ’s office. I got to review some great albums, some not so great albums, some albums that weren’t even released to the public yet (gotta love the perks of the press), and I was turned onto some amazing music that I never would have been exposed to had I been left to my own devices. It was a great experience, and it’s something that I really want to continue
So, without further adieu, I should probably get to this week’s installment of what I hope to be my “Weekly Album Reviews” (I’ll come up with a catchy name for the features
This week: Rise Against – Long Forgotten Songs: B-Sides & Covers 2000-2013 (DGC Records)
Rise Against has been shaking the punk rock scene to the core ever since they were formed under the Transistor Revolt moniker at the turn of the century. Since the release of their debut album, The Unraveling in 2001, each subsequent release has been an example of continued maturation both musically and stylistically, as well as a beautiful work of art. The group however didn’t really make its way into the spotlight until the release of The Sufferer & The Witness in 2006, with hits like “Prayer Of The Refugee” and “The Good Left Undone. Since then, Rise Against has released 2 more full length albums, an EP, and most recently, a compilation album, Long Forgotten Songs: B-Sides & Rarities 2000-2013.
Before I get into the music, since I had to explain it to my roommate the other day, I figured I’d do a service to anyone that’s a casual music fan out there and explain what exactly a B-Side is. Anyone who already knows, you might as well just skip this paragraph… Or listen to me rant, your choice. In today’s music world, a B-Side is pretty much considered any song made by an artist or group that isn’t featured on one of their full-length albums. The practice of calling these songs B-Sides comes from the days of vinyl. No, not today’s hipster musical purist movement, the original days of vinyl. Groups would put “bonus songs,” additional tracks, and even just inferior recordings on the B side, as opposed to the A side, of the record. Nowadays, B-sides can include anything from songs that didn’t make the cut for the album or songs that were part of something else, such as a movie soundtrack or something of that sort (For any of you Red Hot Chili Peppers fans out there, the group had so many B-Sides from their Stadium Arcadium recording session, that they had enough for another complete disc, something that’s come to be known as Venus, to accompany Jupiter and Mars). Hope this clears up any confusion.
Rise Against derived the name for this compilation album from a track off of their 2008 album Appeal To Reason called “Long Forgotten Sons.” The track itself wasn’t really one of the most talked about off the album, so as a pretty huge fan of Rise Against myself, I considered that a nice little touch. For other avid followers of Rise Against, a lot of these songs will sound familiar, and if you’re like me and want to make sure you have every single song ever recorded by one of your favorite bands tucked safely away in your music library, this album is a great way to tie up any loose ends you may have. Aside from that though, this compilation is great for anyone who’s a casual fan, someone that has just heard their radio hits, or really anyone that likes really good punk rock music and is looking for a band to obsess over. This album features great examples of tracks from every step in Rise Against’s lengthy. Their hardcore punk fans will be satisfied with tracks like “Join The Ranks” off of The Unraveling, “Grammatizator” and “Voice Of Dissent” from the Grammatizator 7″ in 2009, and even “Built To Last,” bonus track from The Sufferer & The Witness. In addition, many of the songs off of the This Is Noise – EP, including one of my personal favorites “But Tonight We Dance,” as well as covers of “Little Boxes,” the theme song from the show “Weeds,” “Minor Threat” by Minor Threat, “Ballad Of Hollis Brown” by Bob Dylan, a fantastic cover of “Blind” by Face To Face, and “The Ghost Of Tom Joad,” originally by The Boss, Bruce Springsteen.
Long Forgotten Songs takes listeners new and old on a journey through all the stages of Rise Against musical mastery. From the hardcore punk of The Unraveling and Revolutions Per Minute to the more melodic and political Endgame and Appeal To Reason, and every bonus track in between, this album is great for all sorts of fans of the genre. Plus, for all you new fans, any grizzled fan will be more impressed when you say you enjoy some of a band’s deeper cuts than if you just list off their popular radio hits: Long Forgotten Songs will definitely help you with that.
Overall, old Rise Against fans won’t be surprised with anything on this album, while new listeners will be exposing themselves to a vast array of the subgenres associated with punk and an absolutely fantastic band.
Next Week: Arctic Monkeys – AM