All posts by alyssaknoop

Hi, I'm Alyssa and I'm an avid lover of music, beer, Stephen King and Harry Potter.

Classic Album Covers in Google Street View

I came across an article that I thought was pretty cool. It took a bunch of classic album covers and put them in their exact surroundings in Google Street View.

Check it out!

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Paul’s Boutique (1989)- Beastie Boys. Ludlow & Rivington, New York.

 

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Moving Pictures (1981) – Rush. Ontario Legislature in Toronto.

 

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Animals (1977) – Pink Floyd. Wandsworth, London.

 

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The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) – Eminem. In front of his childhood home in Detroit, just down the street from 8-Mile.

 

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Abbey Road (1969) – The Beatles. London. After the album was released, the London council had to repaint the wall next to the crosswalk every three months to cover fans’ graffiti, and the street signs had to be mounted high above the ground because otherwise they’d just keep getting stolen.

 

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(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995) – Oasis. Berwick St, London.

 

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Physical Graffiti (1975) – Led Zeppelin. St Mark’s Place, New York.

 

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The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963) – Bob Dylan. Jones St, New York. (That’s 22-year-old Bob with his at-the-time girlfriend.)

 

 

 

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April 5th: Sad Day for Grunge

Yesterday was not only the anniversary of the day that we lost Kurt Cobain, but also the anniversary of the day we lost legendary grunge icon Layne Staley, singer and co-founder of Alice in Chains. He was found in his apartment after dying of a drug overdose eight years to the day after Kurt Cobain killed himself. They even both died in the same town — Seattle.

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The self-destructive Alice in Chains frontman had struggled with depression and drug addiction his whole life, and it showed in his songs. He used most of Alice in Chains’ songs to describe the demons in his own life — most of them being about drug abuse, depression, and self harm. This set Alice in Chains apart from the other grunge metal bands in the ’90s, and made them one of the “Big Four” of grunge, along with Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam. Layne Staley knew the end was near for him. In his last known interview, he said, “I know I’m near death. I did crack and heroin for years. I never wanted to end my life this way. I know I have no chance. It’s too late.”

Alice in Chains has sold around 25 million worldwide, released two #1 albums and 21 top 40 singles, and has received eight Grammy nominations. Their album Dirt is one of my all-time favourites, and I was lucky enough to hear them play my favourite songs when they played Rexall last July with new lead singer, William DuVall (who’s pretty much the coolest-looking guy ever).

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William DuVall joined Alice in Chains in 2006, four years after Layne Staley’s death. And holy hell, he’s a perfect fit. I know that no one can replace Layne, but he sure does his work justice. Layne Staley’s parents went to the first live show that the band played with William DuVall, and they met him after their set, crying, hugging him, and telling him what an amazing job he did. The band released two new records with William DuVall: Black Gives Way to Blue in 2009 and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here in 2013. Both albums still have the signature dark, troubled, grungy-metal sound that made the band as successfully as they became.

The show at Rexall was phenomenal. They did a tribute to Layne Staley, and it sounded amazing. It was eerie how well DuVall nailed the vocals, and I’m so glad that the band decided to keep their name and keep recording and touring, even though they initially didn’t think there was any chance they were going to.

Yesterday was the day in history we lost both Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley, and it’s famously said that one burned out while the other faded away. Both were extremely troubled and even more talented. After Staley’s death, tons of songs were dedicated to him, not to mention Metallica’s Death Magnetic album, which was a tribute to him and everyone who destroyed themselves in the name of rock n’ roll. Layne Staley may be gone, but his signature disturbing sound lives on with Alice in Chains and new singer, William DuVall.

“Would?”, from Dirt, released in 1992.

“Stone”, from The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, released in 2013.

 

All Images Courtesy of Google Images.

Teens React to Nirvana

In case you missed it, yesterday was the 20th anniversary of legendary Kurt Cobain’s death.

I came across this video a couple weeks ago on the SONiC website and I need to share it. It’s a bunch of teens (17, 18) reacting to Nirvana’s music videos like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Heart-Shaped Box”. Some of their reactions are hilarious. “When music videos used to be normal. There’s nobody stripping in this one.” One boy says at one point, “Hey, they use that in that one song by Jay-Z! They stole that!” I don’t even…

Anyway, you should watch it. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. I also need to find this “Adam” guy and make him my best friend.

“He was like, really attractive and that’s creepy because he’s dead.” Literally my life. RIP, Kurt. We still miss you. It’s better to burn out than to fade away.

SONiC’s 9th Birthday Party with USS

So last night I had the extreme pleasure of attending the 9th birthday party of my favourite radio station, SONiC 102.9. My boyfriend miraculously won tickets and it was easily one of the funnest shows I’ve ever been to, and it wasn’t even because it was free.

The show was at Union Hall, which I’ve never been to. We got there at around 10pm. It was relatively easy to find, and when we reached the end of the lineup to get in, we were met with enthusiastic high fives from the SONiC Intern Army. That completely set the tone for the rest of the night, seeing as how everyone there was just as excited and happy to be there as I was. We quickly grabbed a beer and walked around the place before heading to the stage to watch SONiC’s own Ryan G’s band, Pale Blue Dot.

(Let me just interrupt myself to say that holy hell, Union Hall is fantastic. There are two floors and it’s set up in a way so that no matter where you are, you have a fantastic view of the stage. We showed up an hour late and this is where we were for Pale Blue Dot, while chatting with Rick Lee beforehand.)

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They were actually really great. They’ve got a fantastic Blink 182 thing going on and I recommend checking them out. When they were done their set, we grabbed more beers and had a blast watching Mitchmatic do his thing. I had no idea that it was just him, his computer and his saxophone. I saw a few people who were easily in their 60s gettin’ their groove on and it was a phenomenal sight.

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When USS finally came on around midnight, I thought Union Hall was going to break. The energy in that place was absolutely unreal. People went crazy and an hour-long friendly dance/moshpit hybrid broke out and didn’t stop. Every song they played was met with thunderous applause and cheering. After hearing Anti-Venom, Laces Out, and Yin Yang live, I’m surprised I had a voice this morning. They played their cover of Outkast’s Hey Ya!, Oasis’ Wonderwall, and ended everything with Hakuna Matata, which, I mean, come on. What better way to end a night of rockin’ out with hundreds of the friendliest people I’ve ever met?

The sound was perfect, the energy was insane to say the least, and USS sure do know how to put on an entertaining show. The moments where they let the crowd sing were overwhelmingly loud and clear. And I almost touched Human Kebab at least three times while he was crowd surfing. No big deal. But, yeah. That almost happened. And to top it all off, I got to hang out with Layne Mitchell for a bit before leaving.

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It was one of the funnest, most energetic, friendliest shows I’ve ever been to. Ever. There was never a moment where I wasn’t smiling or laughing or clapping or dancing or cheering, and everyone around was like that. The atmosphere was just indescribable. USS said they’d be coming back in the summer, and I highly highly suggest going to see them live. You won’t regret it.

 

Happy 9th birthday, SONiC! Keep on rockin’.

Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power

You may have heard that it’s Vinnie Paul’s birthday today. He was the drummer for Pantera, and now drums for band Hellyeah, which isn’t nearly as good, but it’s nice to know the dude’s still got it. He’s 50 years old today.

In celebration of Vinnie’s birthday, I’m going to rant and rave about one of the first albums I ever bought: Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power. It was released in ’92, and was one of the most influential albums of the ’90s. It’s been described as “one of the defining albums of the groove-metal genre”, and features many songs that have become the band’s most well-known and recognizable tracks.

This was the second album that displayed Pantera’s change of sound. Their first few records were more glam-metal, and were inspired by bands like Van Halen and KISS. When Phil Anselmo replaced Terry Glaze on vocals in ’87, they released their fourth studio album, Power Metal, which started moved away from their original glam-metal sound. Cowboys From Hell was released in 1990, and it was a key turning point for Pantera — their sound was now noticeably influenced by bands like Metallica, Slayer and Black Sabbath.

Here’s a little fun fact, the main reasoning behind the musical style of Vulgar Display of Power. When Metallica’s self-titled album (AKA The Black Album) came out in 1991, Pantera considered it to be a letdown to fans; Metallica had seemingly strayed from their thrash metal sound that was in their previous albums. It’s weird because that album gave us a lot of the Metallica classics like “Enter Sandman”, “Sad But True”, “Wherever I May Roam”. I can see their point though; those tracks aren’t nearly as heavy as “Damage, Inc.”, “Creeping Death” or “Motorbreath”. Pantera felt that they had an opportunity and a gap to fill, and wanted to make “the heaviest record of all time.”

Then Vulgar Display of Power came out with a picture of a dude getting punched right in the face on the cover. It’s now pretty iconic. The band told their label that they wanted the cover to be “something vulgar — like a guy getting punched in the face.”

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Nailed it.

Apparently the guy got $10 per punch, and he ended up getting punched about 30 times to get the shot just right. And then they obviously photoshopped it. Totally worth it. He’s able to wake up in the morning and say, “Hey. Good morning, world. I’m that guy getting socked in the face on the cover of one of the most influential album of the ’90s.”

The whole album is filled with heavy, gut-busting guitar riffs and hostile, angry vocals that gave Pantera their signature sound. This record introduced us to classic songs that were a big part of the soundtrack to my junior high years, like “Walk”, “Mouth for War”, “A New Level”, “Hollow” and “F*cking Hostile”. Vulgar Display of Power is just a classically heavy, no-bull, straight-to-the-angry-point album that makes you want to go around and kick things. In a good way.

Happy 50th, Vinnie Paul. You rock.

All Images Courtesy of Google Images.

Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral: 20th Anniversary

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the release of what is said to be “one of the most upsetting, misunderstood, and enduring album of the ’90s.”

This is by far one of my all-time favourite albums. I’m a sucker for concept albums; they’re cohesive, smart, and take you on a journey that makes the listening experience much more engaging and memorable. Each song of The Downward Spiral can really only be fully understood within the rest of the album. Without the other songs, each song is incomplete.

The tracks of the dark and unsettling concept album take us through the twisted steps of the destruction of a man. The plot follows his descent into his own inner world where he eventually meets his demise. The album opens with “Mr. Self Destruct”, which sets the tone for the rest of it and foreshadows the conclusion while serving as an introduction. The rest of the album takes us through the man — some say a serving as a reflection of Trent Reznor himself — dealing with religion, dehumanization, violence, disease, society, drugs, sex, and leading up to suicide. The last one is represented in the final track of The Downward Spiral, “Hurt”: the famously bone-chilling, disturbing song that was covered by none other than Johnny Cash himself. A lot of people don’t realize that the  song was originally the conclusion to Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral.

This is one of the smartest, twisted, and most haunting albums I’ve ever listened to. It’s one of those albums that, in order to fully appreciate it, you have to close the blinds, take the phones off the hook (kind of an outdated saying, maybe just turn your cell on silent) and listen to it — all the songs, back to back. It’s by far Trent Reznor’s most mature album to date, and it’s crazy to think that it’s been twenty years since its release in 1994. It’s brilliant. Plain and simple. Happy birthday, The Downward Spiral!

Have you guys listened to it? What do you think? What are some of your favourite albums?

 

All Images Courtesy of Google Images.

Queen & Adam Lambert

Earlier this week, it was announced that Queen with Adam Lambert are doing a 19-date North American tour this summer, stopping in Edmonton on June 24th.

This isn’t the first time original Queen guitarist Brian May and original drummer Roger Taylor have teamed up with Adam Lambert. They first performed together in 2009 on American Idol, then performed at the MTV European Music Awards in 2011, then in 2012, they collaborated again for a series of shows around Europe.

Brian May said about the tour:

“This happened organically with Adam. People are going to ask whether it’s Queen without Freddie. I don’t know. We just want to go out there one more time. Adam isn’t an imitator.”

Roger Taylor added that Adam is “the most incredible frontman.” As if the world didn’t already know, Adam Lambert is a diva, and Taylor says that’s been great for them, that they need that theatrically.

To me, this trio seems to know what they’re doing. Still, people are boycotting the tour, saying that it’s “wrong” without original frontman Freddie Mercury. That it’s not Queen without him. People are bashing Adam Lambert, saying that he’s not even close to being deserving of touring with the original members. A guy on Facebook even said: “I’m not going to pay money to go watch a karaoke session.” But, is that really what this tour is going to be? People are acting as if Freddie Mercury was Queen. Yes, he was an idol. He was the face of Queen. But there were other people in the band. And the fact that those legendary rockstars are wanting to tour one more time, even with a different singer, is beyond exciting. And I think Adam Lambert has a great voice. Yeah, he’s annoying. But he can do Freddie Mercury justice. May and Taylor wouldn’t be collaborating with him if he couldn’t. Adam Lambert has said that Freddie Mercury is his idol, his hero, and that it’s been surreal to be honouring his memory. I trust the dude.

I’m not going to pass up hearing “Bohemian Rhapsody” live. I’m going to be able to tell my future rockstar kids that I saw the legendary Queen live. It wasn’t all the original members, but hell, it was closer than I thought I’d ever get. What about you guys? Are you boycotting the tour, or are you going to go rock out to “We Will Rock You” and “Fat Bottomed Girls?”

 

All Images Courtesy of Google Images.