East Coast-based CircleDown has four tracks to bring their A-game in their “Mobius” album, And, while the first two tracks cater to the speed metal crowd, and will be familiar to Linkin Park and even a bit of Sum 41 fans, CircleDown is only two out of four in delivering killer tracks.
Radio-Friendly Thrash Metal Song
It is not until track three, “Crash,” that this writer found a new obsession. Where on Earth did this bizarre-sounding blurb of an oriental tweak come from? Just as the first two songs – while excellent in arrangement and strong thrash metal performances – channel some power punches, “Crash” seals the deal. It is a fury of buildup and conflicting sounds. Really, it is that good. It is memorable and one of the most radio-friendly thrash metal songs this writer has encountered in quite some time (think Faith No More, that is how long).
Listeners will also enjoy track four, “ReConstitute.” Never a dull moment in this one either. It is missing the synth sound, but the roar and toe-curling percussion swoop right in there. This song also brings it.
CircleDown is comprised of Drew “Diode” Madore (vocals, DJ, synth), Kevin “Cansh” Cansian (bass), Eric “Reebus” Wisely (drums) and Dean Romanelli (guitars). At first, it is easy to lump this group into every other speed metal rock/rap outfit. But, again, the “Crash” song is so memorable it is insane to think that there are not more songs out there like this for a band like CircleDown.
What is also evident about these guys is they get the tightly-produced song. There are no gaps, no down moments to songs. The bridges engage, and true, Madore’s vocals have little range, the band and arrangements certainly make up for the normality. According to its official biography, CircleDown has been lauded for earning two Auddy™ Awards, given to songs that score high on a program that tests clear mathematical hit potential. Or “The underlying musical patterns of this song are similar to songs that have been hitting for a long time.” Meaning, they write songs that in theory, can become viral.
Fans of Faith No More, System of a Down, DownSlave, Incubus, playing video games, Linkin Park, maybe 311 and maybe some European-flavored dance tracks should give these guys a listen. It is not that those first two songs disappoint, it is they seem to be swept away into the “just okay” song pile. Again, listeners will enjoy tracks three and four.
Alternative rap, a genre comprising of a combination of contrasting urban musical elements, was long forgotten since the mid 1980′s – the influential period that saw its conception. It was born and partially raised primarily in the East-Coast of the United States, by groups such as the independently-signed Jungle Brothers and Long Island natives De La Soul, widely known for their hit collaboration Feel Good Inc with Gorillaz, whose musical style is also considered, alternative.
That was until urban-experimentalists Outkast (a group consisting of Andre 3000 and Big-Boi) revived its existence with their release of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2003. This album surpassed the creative threshold established by its categorical predecessors and also become the only ever rap-orientated album to sell in excess of 11,000,000 domestic copies; a figure that many believed was to be unobtainable for the eccentric duo, breaking another significant barrier in its wake.
The Introduction Of Kid Cudi
6 Years later and its lyrical-experimenter Kid Cudi’s responsibility to stimulate its rebirth. The Cleveland-born Cudi, real name Scott Mescudi, always had an ambition to create something art-worthy, whether musically or otherwise. He sourced his inspiration from alternative hip-hop groups that were prominent during his later years as a teenager, namely The Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest who created a musical style parallel to that of the act as mentioned earlier, Outkast – unorthodox and undefinable.
Cudi was initially been discovered by DJ & music-producer Plain Pat, while still attending University. The song that has gained him the most credibility thus far is his elementary effort “Day & Night” which occupied the #3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Single’s chart in the first quarter of 2008.
Cudi’s Critical Reception
Critics assumed that this would be another one-hit-wonder, discouraging his capability to craft another well-received hit. “Was Day N Nite a fluke? …it seems the rapper is perilously close to being a one-hit wonder.” – Chris Schulz. It was Kanye West’s interest amid the release of the track which motivated him to promptly sign Cudi to his G.O.O.D music label.
Cudi possess a unique, inimitable vocal sound coated in subtle artwork, similar to that of Pharrell or Lupe Fiasco, where the ability to create a vivid visual illusion solely from what enters the ear canal, is essential. What keeps his listener’s hearts throbbing and eardrums satisfied though is the sheer unpredictability of his lyrical scope – an element of this forever-mutating genre that has been held captive since Kanye West released his last album “808′s and Heartbreaks” which, ironically, Cudi actually performed on.
Debut Musical Releases
Mescudi’s complementary mixtape “A Kid Named Cudi” gives his newly-acquired fans an honest, auditory taste of the sort of material that will comprise his subsequent, commercial album – “Man on the Moon: The End of Day.” His debut space-crafted masterpiece exceeded all expectations, critically and commercially, earning him two enviable Grammy nominations, which is wholly unprecedented for a non-conformist, alternative rap artist in his position.
Cudi takes us on an internal tour, isolated into five gut-wrenching chapters, exposing his depressed mental state, which he delivers through a fearless monotone intonation that immerses listeners in his emotional struggle; the tragic loss of his father to cancer at the tender age of 11 contributed considerably to this approach. Music is more of an outlet or a coping mechanism rather than a lucrative-skill for the Cleveland-native.
From his work, it’s evident that Cudi entered the industry with a level of undeniable optimism, but in this day and age, that’s a near futile characteristic to be affiliated with. This does illustrate though, how he doesn’t feel musically restricted in terms of what is acceptable in the marketplace and that hopefully, other artists will follow suit, a trait that was undoubtedly passed down by Kanye West himself.
Kid Cudi has also collaborated with French DJ David Guetta on the electro-pop track “Memories” which has received heavy airplay in Europe since it was released in early February.
Complex, a fashion magazine known for its inclusion of distinctive elements of street and mainstream-culture have compiled a list of what they believe are the 25 most anticipated albums of this year, placing Mescudi’s sophomore musical-novel “Cudder” (The titled has been revised since this list was published) ahead of such urban heavyweights as Common and T.I. This is utterly remarkable considering that he’s only spent the last two years as an active musician.
Two new Kid Cudi records have since leaked onto the internet, which are entitled “REVOFEV” and “Erase Me,” the latter featuring label-manager Kanye West. Both tracks have managed to generate a lot of interest across the internet, especially “Erase Me” which features a much more complex, rock-inspired beat. Now avid listeners can properly prepare themselves for the release of his sophomore LP, which is now entitled “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager.”
Rock music is by far the genre of music that has had the most massive effect on music, ether it is the industry itself or other genres of music in general. Rock music owes its roots to the decade where the music industry first started picking up momentum, the 1950s. (Coincidence?) The music was targeted for being offensive for its lyrical content and African American roots. Usually, the latter was the cause of the former. We can trace Rock ‘n’ Roll back to the 1920s, this ancestor of rock music is Jazz. Jazz started in the same light as Rock. Jazz was seen as obscene for the liberal behavior that it encouraged and the African American roots it had, is this just some odd coincidence?
It seems that the common denominator in the music of both these genre’s scorn is the African Americans who first started playing it. This is only the beginning of the undeserved hatred that Rock music has so infamously acquired. While racism was a factor in the initial resentment to Rock ‘n’ Roll, another was the lyrical content that eventually became one of the mottos of Rock ‘n’ Roll and its sub-genres, Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Rock sang about sex and drugs. The motto is a central point in the image of rock stars today, but where did it come from? Rock ‘n’ Roll is Blues slang for sex, and it is easy to find quite a large number of Blues songs with a sexual agenda in them. The fascinations of Rock music evolved from Blues. It does not surprise me that here in America where the self-hatred of our bodies makes us insecure about our sexual drive, which we repress to avoid being socially unacceptable, that such a thing was taken ill. While there may be a separation of church and state in our country, it doesn’t stop people from pretending there is or asserting their moral values as truth. Why is Rock music bad because it doesn’t suit your lifestyle?
On to drugs, the word in the motto does not have to do as much with singing about drugs as it does the hard party lifestyle of a rock star, the motto as a whole address. Rock music was about having a good time; it was precisely the mellowing out the country needed in the so-called innocence and apple pie age of the 1950s. Apart from what some people may tell you, Rock music has had some definite positive effects. A large majority of our pop culture is based on off Rock Music, and the industry is pushed along. The guitar has become a symbol of not only Rock ‘n’ Roll, but of American teenagers in general, it is the most popular instrument.
Rock music is the most popular genre; it is easy to find even among today’s New Country singers a hint of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s vast influences. We are a nation who loves to rock; we are a world who loves to rock. Sometimes we just need some loud guitar to tell us to have a good time.
Many successful songs are derived from simple, catchy chord sequences. However, there are a wealth of interesting chords and extensions that can make a song stand out more than the rest, by avoiding musical clichés and not merely ‘recycling’ the same three chords again and again.
A few of these are easy to write with, and they can even be added to a song after it is written without having to change the whole structure.
The Suspended Chord (sus)
Suspended chords are common in all music, and are created by moving the third up a semitone, into a fourth. In a C Major chord, this means the notes would be C, F, and G instead of C, E, and G; a simple substitution.
The effect a suspended chord has is to suggest that something is unresolved, meaning you can then resolve it by returning to the third, or even by moving to a different key. These chords are more successful at the beginning or end of a song if placed where the listener is expecting a simple major chord. An example of this would be in The Who’s Pinball Wizard, where the verses feature suspended chords that are resolved by returning to the third in every other bar. Sometimes a succession of different suspended chords can create a pleasant effect, but don’t try and make an entire song out of them!
The Minor Seventh Chord (m7)
Many funk and disco songs are full of minor sevenths, but they can be used to great effect in an ordinary rock or pop song. If you have a minor chord or a sequence of minor chords, try adding the seventh note in a chord’s scale onto the end of it. For example, E Minor contains the notes E, G, and B, while E Minor Seventh contains E, G, B, and D.
The extra note has a thickening effect that can be valuable in certain contexts, though don’t overdo it. It’s best to try it out with an existing song, and listen to what the seventh is doing to your harmony. It can make a progression of chords seem groovier but sacrifices the sad, dark qualities of the original minor chord. The chorus from The Bee Gees’ Night Fever is built entirely from minor seventh chords.
The Major Seventh Chord (M7)
This chord is beautiful and surprisingly underused in favorite music. As with the minor seventh, an extra note is added, but this time it is the unflattened seventh note in the scale (the one just before the tonic itself), and it is more commonly added to a major chord. In C Major, this would make a chord with the notes C, E, G, and B.
An ordinary C7 chord would contain Bb, but the B natural adds a dreamy quality to the sound instead. As with the minor sevenths, major sevenths work well in groups so that you could make an entire chord sequence out of them for a thick, gorgeous sounds, such as in the main vamp to Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets. Experiment with them and see for yourself where they fit and where they don’t. A hard rock song rarely has a place for the major seventh chord!
The Diminished/Augmented Chord (dim/aug)
These are two separate chords, but they have a similar effect on harmony. The diminished chord replaces the usual third and fifth with their flattened equivalents (so F, A, C becomes F, Ab, Cb/B) while the augmented chord sharpens only the fifth (so F, A, C becomes F, A, C#). If you’re not used to these chords, they can seem ugly, and they are on their own.
Bear in mind that diminished and augmented chords work best as part of a sequence, where the melody “passes through” them to arrive somewhere else. The diminished chord has a sinister effect but adds a lot of colors when used to move into a new key. The augmented chord has a similar impact on the suspended chord, raising the tension before everything is resolved. Both have a significant role in David Bowie’s Life on Mars, where they are used to ascend or descend between other chords in the song’s chorus.
The Ninth, Eleventh and Thirteenth Chords (9, 11, 13)
Finally, we have three more extension chords that go beyond the seventh. Common in jazz, these chords are intended to create dense, intricate harmonies. They are formed merely by adding the note of the scale relevant to each number, so in the key of C, a C Ninth chord would include C, E, G, Bb and D (the seventh is optional but is usually retained). The eleventh adds another note to make C, E, G, Bb, D and F (again, the previous extensions are optional but help establish the direction the harmony is going in). The biggest of them all, the thirteenth of C would consist of C, E, G, Bb, D, F, A!
These chords get increasingly harder to use as they go up in number, but when applied expertly they can make even the dullest of songs seem exciting and varied. A particular example of these extended chords in action would be the introduction to Dave Brubeck’s Strange Meadow Lark, which uses all three in conjunction with various other complex chords. They do not have to be restrained to jazz alone though.