"I've escaped it, a life wasted/And I'm never going back again." - Pearl Jam, "Life Wasted"

Monday, April 25, 2005

Top 5 Country, Top 5 Blues

Old-fashioned country and too-simple blues. Yet, rock would not have been born without these two parent genre. So, if you consider yourself a music fan, do yourself a favour, and listen to these picks. Consider this your rock history 101. =p


5 Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put A Spell On You
Wild, drunken fit of inspired madness. Hawkins complements one of the best blues vocal performances recorded with - no other way to put this - grunts, howls and maniacal laughter. The result? He was mentioned in the same breath back in the 1950s as we do to Marilyn Manson. But it's a total gas - I've seldom laughed so hard at a song. Spine-tingling moment: The guttural additions will give you giggling fits.

4 Muddy Waters - Rollin' Stone
Another great blues vocalist, Waters projects an image of a mighty man who refuses to wallow in blues. His sly boasts lay the foundation of gangsta rap, and transcend the blues genre in their proud simplicity. Listen to him complement his lyrics with sweet guitar licks. He will get his mojo working on you. Spine-tingling moment: The lurching, swaggering beat of this classic.

3 Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign
Possibly the most groovy blues riff I've heard. Swinging, yet with an addictive thump. King is massively influential to some of the best guitarists ever, like Clapton, Beck and Vaughan. His solo here is simple, but so cutting, it will leave shards in your memory. Spine-tingling moment: The immortal riff. Raw and unnerving.

2 Robert Johnson - Hellhound On My Trail
Blues can be divided as pre-Johnson blues and post-Johnson blues. Prior to this wildly-gifted bluesman, the genre is rote and unimaginative, using the basic tools and singing familiar laments. After he appeared, all rules are broken. Blues guitar became improvisational, and lyrical topics became more ominous. This is his most famous track, a desperate call for help amid crushing despair. A shattering listen for the power of blues. Spine-tingling moment: The opening lines: "I gotta keep on moving, gotta keep on moving/The blues keep falling down like hail."

1 Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood
The culmination of modern blues can be heard through this excellent cut from this unparalleled blues guitarist. He tears off solo after solo with aplomb, and sings as if he is forever cut off by the flood. Best of all, the whole song sounds relevant to modern times, a quality hard to find in this most traditional genre. Spine-tingling moment: Rip away, Steve Ray. His solos are flights of wonder.


5 The Eagles - New Kid In Town
"Hotel California" is more classic rock than country, but this song from the same album is an exquisite country ballad. The tale about a stranger in a small town is rendered unbearably beautiful by the vocal harmonies of Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Add some tasteful guitar licks, and voila, it's a standard that no other country ballad that came after this has managed to top. Spine-tingling moment: The sly change in key at the bridge lifts the song to memorable heights.

4 Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman
So languid, so rural is this enchanting song. Campbell paints a portrait of the loneliness amid the beauty of the countryside with such assuredness, you'll be transported to another world with the first listen. Spine-tingling moment: Campbell soars at the last line of the chorus, and you will too.

3 Hank Williams - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
The quinessential track from the father of modern country music. Four mournful verses of simple grace, Williams wisely keeps his emotions in check and sings the shattering lyrics with matter-of-fact tone. It's a powerful song, proof that under the right hands, country music can be as chilling as the best punk music. Spine-tingling moment: The final weepy verse: "The silence of a falling star, lights up a purple sky/And as I wonder where you are, I'm so lonesome I could cry."

2 The Eagles - Desperado
This holds a special place in my heart. Reason 1: It reminded me of a good relationship with a girl. (I won't say more.) Reason 2: It's the bonding song of my army platoon. I remember singing this in the middle of the Brunei forest. Awesome. Back story aside, this ballad is so stately, so beautiful, so aching, it deserves to be sung till eternity, at any lounge or karaoke bar. Spine-tingling moment: The opening piano line announces four minutes of unparalleled beauty.

1 Johnny Cash - Hurt
The Man in Black's final statement. Nine Inch Nails' most self-loathing song is transformed into a bitter, weary reflection on a life of rebellion. In Cash's inimitable voice, the haunting song sums up his wondrous career - full of deathless songs, sung with attitude and authority. My favourite artiste in a genre which I dislike. Spine-tingling moment: The thudding piano stabs almost overpower a tired Cash in the chorus. Yet he manages to pull through.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Star Sign

Look, I like Star Wars. I think the last two films are enjoyable, but a bit redundant. And make no mistake, I'll be watching the next sequel when it premieres next month.

But some fans (i.e. nerds) just take the cake. Triumph the Insult Dog investigates the phenomenon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Top 25 Punk songs

Here's the swift kick in the arse that every musician needs. Keep it simple, stupid. Punk killed the bloated rock bands, twice. Once in the 1970s and then, via grunge, again in the 1990s. One can never underestimate this genre's inherent power to rebel and revolutionise.

Punk also spawned a myriad of sub-genres which latched onto the free-spirited, do-it-yourself ethics to produce great music. For better or worse, style and attitude is a prerequisite to rock now, not musicianship.

Punk does not exactly run in my blood, but it is always a source of inspiration whenever I'm stuck in a rut. Here's 25 punk songs that captured my imagination.

25 Minor Threat - Straight Edge
Blitzkrieg hardcore punk. The title eventually became a lifestyle for punks - no drugs, no alcohol, anti-politics, self-aware. Ian MacKaye barks out the no-nos of life and screams: "I've got straight edge!" Quite a lot of punks followed his orders. Spine-tingling moment: No time to lose, just a freaking 45 seconds of raging guitars and drums.

24 Bad Religion - Suffer
Another awesome quickie. This SoCal band are much more melodic than other hardcore punk units and, on songs such as this, mow their messages across at hyper-speed. You can't help but mosh. Spine-tingling moment: The final lyric, spat out by Greg Graffin: "The masses of humanity will always, always have to suffer!"

23 Dead Boys - Sonic Reducer
Young, loud and snotty. Dead Boys rant about everything, even if you can't understand half of what Stiv Bators is screeching about. Who knows what a sonic reducer is, but hell, let's mosh. Spine-tingling moment: The middle, flanged section. A galloping rush.

22 Mission Of Burma - That's When I Reach For My Revolver
Classy, simmering vitriol from this relatively obscure but very influential band. They differ from other punk bands in scaling down the musical aggression, while delving into darker lyrics. On this, their best cut, the rumbling bass and chiming guitars make for a chilling portrait of intense alienation to the point of breakdown. Spine-tingling moment: Try watching "Taxi Driver" now, then listen to this chorus: "That's when I reach for my revolver/That's when it all gets blown away."

21 The Only Ones - Another Girl, Another Planet
Who says punks can't pen love songs? This one is so achingly romantic, so raw. When frontman Peter Perrett sings "I'm in another planet with you", and guitarist John Perry flies in with something rare in punk - a guitar solo - it's a perfect three minutes of unabashed love. Spine-tingling moment: The guitar solo remains a thing of joy, be it punk or not.

20 Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Massively influential in shaping British music after punk, this Mancunian band is also the first and last word in shaping songs of crushing despair. Ian Curtis penned torment with possessed urgency, and although this is their biggest hit, the melodies do not hide his brutal examination of love disintegrating. Heart of darkness, indeed. RIP Ian. Spine-tingling moment: Curtis utters the weary lyrics with little emotion, to devastating effect.

19 The Stooges - Search And Destroy
Iggy Pop typifies the devil-may-care rebel without a cause. This is his bruising statement of intent. Mixed at ear-splitting levels, The Stooges appropriate apocalypse and Iggy proceeds to dance all over it. Consider this punk's fiery root. Spine-tingling moment: The opening declaration: "I'm a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm."

18 Wire - 12XU
The strangest punk band are also one of the genre's finest. They take punk's "less is more" stance to its extreme with short bursts of rage - one verse, one chorus, one riff, then trot on to the next song. This is their catchiest, with a tick-tock riff to bob your head insanely to. Weird lyrics though. Spine-tingling moment: The metronomic riff returns near the end. Cue crazed headbanging.

17 The Undertones - Teenage Kicks
Sweet one-hit wonder. Punk belongs to the teenager in everyone, and The Undertones understand this perfectly as they paint an aching picture of adolescent love blossoming. Another punk song with more heart? I can't think of one. Spine-tingling moment: Fergal Sharkey tumbling in with the classic line: "Teenage dreams, so hard to be."

16 Blink 182 - Dammit (Growing Up)
Beneath their childish demeanour, Blink 182 are a muscular, dextrous punk band. This is where they found their style and their calling. No one comes close in capturing teenage anxiety with as much regularity as this trio. Spine-tingling moment: The opening notes sound monstrous and mosh-friendly.

15 Black Flag - Rise Above
Punk's militant extreme. Henry Rollins and gang rage through this incendiary call to arms with rabid, breakneck speed. Greg Ginn supplies the potent riffs, as Rollins spits out all his manifest anger. "We are tired of your abuse", indeed. Spine-tingling moment: Perhaps the best shouter in the punk business, Rollins will get in your face.

14 The Clash - Train In Vain
Breaking every rule in punk, The Clash were adroit enough to flit through so many genres, yet retain the fervour of their roots. Just compare their first album with this, the last cut on "London Calling". Rawness is complemented by competent arrangement, and Mick Jones sings with such enthusiasm that it hides the hurt of the broken relationship. Anything is possible for punks after this. Spine-tingling moment: The descending chords that run through the song is possibly the catchiest punk riff I've heard.

13 Elvis Costello - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?
Punk at heart, style be damned. Costello may look like a geek, yet he proves that as long as the fervour is there, any song can be invigorated. This was originally a folk protest song, and the bespectacled one transforms it into an excellent, fiery rocker. So pulsating is the drive of this song, it is impossible to sit still while Costello tumbles through his lyrics. Spine-tingling moment: When the chorus hits you like a sledgehammer.

12 The Jam - Going Underground
The most British of all British punks, The Jam create strident anthems that harken back to a less-gloomy time in the UK. Paul Weller is a gifted lyricist who paints vivid pictures with brash authority. This is an instant favourite, with its stop-start rhythms in the verses and an unforgettable chorus which gives an adrenaline rush every time you spin this record. Spine-tingling moment: The lyrics to lead into the chorus: "The public gets what the public wants, but I want nothing this society's got, I'm going underground." Rebellion personified.

11 Dead Kennedys - Holiday In Cambodia
Perhaps hardcore punk's most political band, Jello Biafra spews out his left-wing diatribes with acidic spite. Tremendously affecting stuff, especially on this wicked spat at kiss-ass rich boys. Hey, I've seen these idiots suffer in the army and, wicked as it seemed, I enjoyed every minute of it. Spine-tingling moment: A gleeful Biafra intoning "Pol Pot, Pol Pot" before launching into the final chorus.

10 Joy Division - Atmosphere
Elegaic, atmospheric and tragic. Joy Division's most optimistic song, a soaring "walk in silence". Ian Curtis' aching vocals is married to the most beautiful post-punk music ever. The rolling tom-toms and the melancholic bass rumble through murmuring keyboards. Then... Spine-tingling moment: ...in comes the strings from heaven after Curtis finishes each verse. A celestial rush.

9 Green Day - American Idiot
Who would've expected it? After a fluke success in the 1990s, Green Day look ready to wind down their one-trick-pony career. Then ZAP!!! They hit us with this electrifying diatribe against George W Bush's USA. The rest of the world cheered madly and, like all their greatest hits, get inspired to pick up the guitar and bash away at this anthem. Spine-tingling moment: "Well maybe I'm the faggot America/I'm not part of the redneck agenda!" Finally, a sensible post 9/11 American band.

8 The Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated
The punk revolutionaries, rock's greatest one-trick ponies. With their proverbial "three minutes, three chords and next song" antics, The Ramones booted the bloated classic rock monster into oblivion. They also set the agenda for rock's future - attitude first, melody second, lyrics next and proficiency last. For better or worse. Spine-tingling moment: All their songs are catchy, but this cut's the most fun, what with its immortal couplet: "Put me in a wheelchair, get me to the show/Hurry hurry hurry, before I go loco."

7 The Strokes - The Modern Age
Punk gets modernised, thanks to this New York quintet, who swaggered into rock's consciousness with this stunning, instant classic. Riffs fly in from all directions, drums propel at different rhythms and then a delicious guitar solo drops by. The Strokes make the hype all worthwhile. Spine-tingling moment: Julian Casablancas' utterly infectious stutter at the word "go".

6 Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK
Ah, what would punk be without this anarchic anthem from the foremost shockers of this genre. Johnny Rotten's nihilism sounds live-in and nasty, and his bile has not diminished even after 29 years. But it would be nothing without his underrated band, whom many think are sloppy. Quite the opposite, as Steve Jones detonates this track with explosive power chords. Spine-tingling moment: The final, drunken roar of rebellion: "Fucking destroy!!!!!!!"

5 The Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love?
The paradox of punk is that regardless of the revolutionary anti-commercial ambitions, punk's very simplistic style is a direct homage to good ol' pop music. Thankfully, the Buzzcocks realised that and duly married the intense energy of punk to the pop ethos. Their best result is this irresistable track, an infectious romp about the pains of love. Spine-tingling moment: It's a singalong joyride, from intro to end.

4 The Clash - London Calling
With militaristic fervour, The Clash's urgent drive to change their world come to fruition with this powerful masterpiece. Mick Jones' staccato guitars complement the nervous energy that Joe Strummer imbues in his apocalyptic lyrics. The call-and-response verses are jagged and ragged, and the chorus speaks of no way out. A desperate call for change then. Spine-tingling moment: When the bass kicks in like a mule.

3 Bad Brains - Pay To Cum
A hurricane. There's no other way to describe the most intense 84 seconds of music recorded. Guitars rage uncontrollably, drums clatter in a mad rush and lyrics tumble out in a blur. An intoxicating battering of the senses from the craziest punk band. Spine-tingling moment: The insane speed of it all.

2 Joy Division - Twenty-Four Hours
I remember the few months when I was intoxicated by the gloomy brilliance of this band, and how I fell into a deep depression whenever I played this song. It's no fun - no other song can suck the optimism out of me like this one. The claustrophobic feeling that everything is lost is captured with dreadful vividness by Ian Curtis. Every line in the lyrics depicts a desolate and desperate hellhole. Curtis took us to the murky depths of our souls. Unfortunately, he didn't make it back. Spine-tingling moment: Once again, his band come up with an awesome surge of despondent riffing.

1 Television - Marquee Moon
Here's the exhilaration of punk, embodied in 10 epic minutes of roller-coaster thrills. Dim-wit punks may talk about do-it-yourself, free-spiritedness - yet they conform their musical and lyrical styles to basically three chords and a yell. You want to change the world? Listen to Tom Verlaine and his band rip. The angular riffing influenced bands as recent as The Strokes. The impressionistic lyrics are singular to Verlaine's artistic instincts. Then there's the guitar solo - so wildly different from blues-based jams and so jaw-dropping in the improvisations. Punk never came close to being a guitar inspiration for me after this beauty. Spine-tingling moment: At about 4:44 into the song, Verlaine begins his solo - and does not end until almost the 8:30 mark. Every second of it is a thing of subliminal beauty.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Top 25 Classic Rock songs

If you dig hard rock, you have to dig late 1960s to the early 1980s. That was when guitar solos were not a crime yet, and jaw-dropping passages are the norm in this classic rock era.

And since I'm on it, let me say that it's a crying shame that grunge and everything after seem to advocate guitarists not to solo. Where's the inventiveness if you frown at expertise? Look, I appreciate the "three chords and the truth" tenet, but there's only so many ways you can play three chords. Sometimes, a guitar solo speaks more than nonsensical fretboard noodlings. Not everyone can be The Edge or Johnny Greenwood.

In fact, I can argue convincingly that guitar music is so dead now simply because youngsters these days don't know how far they can take this instrument to.

So anyway, here are 25 classic rock songs that may inspire you to pick up a guitar.

25 Jimi Hendrix - The Wind Cries Mary
I've heard jazz pianist Jamie Callum cover this and, while I appreciate his novel attempt, it just pales in comparison to the guitar god. Hendrix scales back on this mellow rocker, and lands a solo so restrained and refined, you swear it's another guitarist. Spine-tingling moment: The sweetest outro I've ever heard.

24 Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit
Hippy rock supremos come up with a counter-culture anthem to being stoned. Builds from a spidery guitar solo and menacing bass into a swirl of guitar frenzy. Groovy. Spine-tingling moment: When Grace Slick describes the weird images after taking the 'shrooms. Peace, dudette.

23 Elton John - Your Song
The odd man out, because he inspires with his piano instead. No-one appreciates his lyrical piano playing beneath all the wigs and costumes he wore in the 1970s, but truth is he wrote music to all his great songs. This is a beautiful ballad, with John's touching lyrics and understated piano sweeping it into the stratosphere. Spine-tingling moment: The amazing power of the chorus.

22 Led Zeppelin - The Rain Song
What inspired Jimmy Page to re-tune his guitar into a weird tuning, and come up with an otherworldly epic like this, we'll never know. This paints a pastoral landscape for Robert Plant to add his medieval paean. Almost Classical. Spine-tingling moment: The sweeping acoustic intro is like a painter's starting strokes to a masterpiece.

21 David Bowie - Rebel Rebel
The riff is back, and it sounds like a clarion call to rebellion on this oft-overlooked Bowie classic. The Chameleon has never sounded this fun before, and since. Spine-tingling moment: When the drums augment the riff to poundingly-great effect.

20 The Doors - Riders On The Storm
One-of-a-kind bands are few and far between. The Doors are one of them; no one even attempts to replicate their dark brilliance. This one is from their later days, and it's their spookiest, yet most moving. Jim Morrison may seem like rock's greatest poser, but he's suitably subdued and brooding here. It's Ray Manzarek's organ that steals the show - plaintive yet seductive. Spine-tingling moment: The almost-funky organ riff that starts the journey through the rain.

19 - The Allman Brothers Band - In Memory Of Elisabeth Reed
Most people frown on jamming on stage nowadays, because of stoned, lacklustre bands ruining shows with boring noodlings in the 1970s. (Uriah Heep, anyone?) But this band just blows away all competition when it comes to thrilling jams. This one takes the cake, as Duane Allman and Dicky Betts soar on almost-jazzy solos that ebb and flow along with tremendous power. Chugging along for 13 minutes, yet not a note is wasted. Spine-tingling moment: Every time the guitarists take off.

18 Queen - Somebody To Love
How could anyone deride this lovable band? My jaws dropped when I read that Queen were often trashed by critics. Sure they are bombastic, but with Freddie Mercury, how can they not be? This one could have been a run-of-the-mill love song under other bands, but Queen add harmonies, stunning arrangements and Brian May's singing solo and, voila! Stadium anthem par excellence. Spine-tingling moment: The vocals fading in as the drums crescendoed.

17 Tom Petty - Free Fallin'
How I wish I could be like Petty, crafting indelible songs with the simplest ideas. This song has just one chord progression, miminal lyrics and not a guitar solo in sight. And guess what? It's unforgettable. Spine-tingling moment: The chorus, another wonder in simplicity.

16 Pink Floyd - Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Listening to Pink Floyd is like travelling to outer space and back, none more so than on this moving odyssey, a tribute to mad former member Syd Barrett. Over 16 hypnotic minutes, they evoke a languid mood, as every note pays gentle affection to their friend. Dave Gilmour's extraordinary guitar lines are a guilty pleasure, taken at your own pace. Spine-tingling moment: For six opening minutes, guitars mourn, keyboards murmur, then in comes the first verse at last - it's like a human finally joining in your space walk.

15 Led Zeppelin - Black Dog
If only my bands have the dexterity and versatility of Led Zep. This is a wild, raunchy ride that encapsulates the hammering power of the four excellent musicians. John Bonham manages to swing even amid his thunderous drumming, and John Paul Jones' ably supports with phat basslines. Robert Plant's wail is affecting, and then Jimmy Page tears away with a killer solo that leaves other rockers in the dust. Spine-tingling moment: That outro solo. Sheer magic.

14 Grateful Dead - Dark Star
The epitome of spacy soloing. Jerry Garcia's liquid guitar sound guides hippies alike through 23 minutes of ecstacy during their live concerts. An effort that's unlikely to be topped - the joy of journeying into the unknown, with a grizzled Garcia smiling his way through it all. Peace. Spine-tingling moment: The longest solo I've ever heard.

13 Creedence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary
Here's another band that strives to keep it simple and powerful. This is a loving tribute to either the ships along Mississippi or, if you're imaginative enough, to marijuana. But hearing the chugging guitars and a carefree vibe, I would guess it's the river they're chasing after. Spine-tingling moment: The simple yet effective guitar solo.

12 Thin Lizzy - The Boys Are Back In Town
Good time rock song made thrilling by the harmonised guitars. Hear it, and be awed by the telepathic interplay between Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. Spine-tingling moment: When the final chorus fades and the guitars revs up, up and then soars away in harmony. Is your hair standing yet?

11 The Doors - Light My Fire
Indisputable classic. It's like plugging into the celestial the moment this song begins. With a melody that is as fresh now as before, Jim Morrison wisely cuts back on his rambling lyrics and lets Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger loose. And in the instrumental passages, they manage to whip up a hypnotic groove like no other band. Spine-tingling moment: Yet when Morrison sings the chorus, it's like everything in the world falling into place and lighting your fire.

10 Free - All Right Now
Archetypical classic rock. Every ingredient is here: the shattering opening riff, the swaggering verses, the singalong chorus and the longer-than-necessary-but-still-thrilling solo. Air guitar time! Spine-tingling moment: Insane rush alert, when the opening chords rip through you.

9 David Bowie - Starman
Charming muse on aliens. Bowie changes style more often than others in the 1970s, but he never let go of his innate melodism. This classic features a wondrous chorus that sweeps the song from the mundane to the memorable. Spine-tingling moment: Like said before, the chorus is a treat for any rock fans.

8 Jimi Hendrix - Little Wing
The genius of Hendrix, and the reason why he will never be topped, is that besides his solos, his subtle guitar phrases whenever he sings are mind-bending as well. This nugget is the prime example. Under any other guitarist, the opening run-through of chords will be boring. But Hendrix pulls out all the stops, with hammers-on and trills to craft a memorable intro that still excites to this day. Wispy, understated brilliance. Spine-tingling moment: The opening note. That's how good Hendrix was.

7 Deep Purple - Smoke On The Water
Simple. Catchy. Monstrous. They can only describe one thing on this song. Spine-tingling moment: Duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh...........No explanation needed if you're a music fan.

6 Cream - Sunshine Of Your Love
If you had thought Eric Clapton is just an old fart who could noodle the guitar a bit, then check out this titanic stomp to have a different opinion. He whips up a timeless riff and, as if it's not enough, tears through a solo as if his life depended on it. The rest of the trio is equally fiery, spewing forth nasty basslines and drumming. Sunshine? Hardly. Spine-tingling moment: Again, it's the opening riff that is forever etched in memory.

5 Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
Out of their minds Queen must be, to incorporate whimsical opera into their songs. Miraculously, that did not diminish the majestic power of this unforgettable classic. In fact, they did the opposite. Nowadays, whenever you hear people talk about this song, they would inevitably quote from the operatic passage: "Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go!" Spine-tingling moment: Brian May's guitar from heaven churns out riff, solos and harmonised phrases with orgasmic delight.

4 Derek And The Dominoes - Layla
Eric Clapton gets outdone here on guitars - a rarity that only Duane Allman can manage. His tingling slide guitar leaps into the upper registers of the guitar that only a slide can reach. It sounds like cries of anguish, which Clapton then tops with his raging vocals to plead his love to a married woman. Oh, don't forget the shattering seven notes that announce this song, and the piano coda from the pits of despair. Spine-tingling moment: The coda still raises goosebumps whenever I hear it. So resigned and weary of an unreachable love, it's like a beautiful woman breaking every male heart in the world.

3 Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
One of my friends, who is not a classic rock fan, says the Scissors Sisters remake is better. Sacrilege!!!! Which just shows how much modern pop fans are missing if they don't appreciate the old-time rock. This song has not one, but two perfect guitar solos, courtesy of the incomparable David Gilmour. The first takes off on one of the most spine-tingling notes ever, and the second darkens the mood as the protagonist slips into near-madness. The words, painting an absolute weariness of the pressures of life and wishing back to childhood, are moving to the point of tears. Look, my friend, there's a difference between novelty and transcendence. Big difference. Spine-tingling moment: You can hum to every note of the two solos.

2 Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven
Ah, the litmus test to whether you like classic rock or not. If you hate this song, there's not much I can help you. (Go to hell then =p) This encapsulates the joys of guitar-based music. From the pastoral beauty of the acoustic intro, to the folksy ramblings of the clean guitars and finally to the raging beauty of the electrified section, this classic will sweep you off your feet. Led Zep know what's good for us. Spine-tingling moment: As good as the solo is, I find the fanfare-like prelude to the solo even more thrilling.

1 Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Most classic rock songs sound rehearsed and carefully-planned. This one is a one-take wonder. Most classic rock songs have mundane lyrics. This one has words that speak of mighty confidence. Most classic rock songs have one good section at most, this one rips all competition to shreds right from the fade-in. Raw, feral and intense, Hendrix's tour de force is also his swansong - it's the last song on his final studio album. "If I don't meet you no more in this world, I'll meet you in the next one, don't be late." Spine-tingling moment: The wah-wah drenched intro is appropriated by every decent rock guitarist. Jaw-dropping.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Being Boring

Sorry for not posting as regularly this week, was busying learning the tools of my professional trade.

Also, I'm dieting. Yes friends, I'm serious this time. It's about time. So some of my free time is devoted to working out.

Anyway, have started work on a few more lists. Man these are really fun to do.

Check these sites which I visit for a laugh. (Warning: may contain things which even I find offensive. When in doubt, don't click.)

Entensity, Attu, b0g, coolio's, kontraband

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Miracle Drug

Golf is not my sport of choice, but I know a great shot when I see one.

This one made me jump out of my couch and punch the air. At 6.30am in the morning.

When it gotta go in, it gotta go in.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Top 15 Electronica songs

What's a mat rocker doing, listening to crappy synthesizer music? Hey, if you want to remain close-minded, be my guest.

15 Gary Numan - Cars
Enduring new wave. Numan tries to incorporate the ground-breaking synth work of Kraftwerk with conventional songs. The result is a haunting ode to driving. Sexy. Spine-tingling moment: The unforgettable synth line that drives the song. Hypnotising.

14 Prodigy - Firestarter
Yayyy! Finally, a techno band that has a face. It is a scary one at that, Keith Flint's menacing leer peering at you. This song is so punkish, you can almost air-guitar to it. Unrelenting. Spine-tingling moment: Flint channels all his bile into the third verse: "I'm the self-inflicted!"

13 Tricky - Black Steel
Otherworldly remake of, get this, Public Enemy's rabble-rousing anthem. Tricky scales away the rap as his frequent collaborator Mary Torpley-Bird drawls at the most incendiary lyrics. Somehow it works. A daring transformation, from one of electronica's most inventive artiste. Spine-tingling moment: A strange, wheezy synth line, sounding like a choked-up guitar, slides through the song.

12 Portishead - Sour Times
Deliciously brooding, Portishead define the cinematic potential of electronica. Every subtle shade of black is available on their sonic palette. This song is awash with twangy guitar sounds, and singer Beth Gibbons sounds as if she's weeping out the words. Devastating. Spine-tingling moment: The tragic chorus: "Nobody loves me, it's true/Not like you do."

11 Daft Punk - Around The World
Enigmatic French duo who come up with the genre's catchiest songs, bar none. This one chugs along for seven minutes on just one riff, and you'll be left wishing it was longer. Not an easy feat. Spine-tingling moment: The robots chanting the title.

10 Pet Shop Boys - Being Boring
Perhaps the most human of all synth bands. PSB arch for emotions; sometimes they fail, and sometimes, like this song, they shatter hearts. A paean to a friend lost to Aids, it's a triumph of understatement as Neil Tennant murmurs mournfully to tasteful synth from Chris Lowe. Spine-tingling moment: The third verse: "I never I thought I'll ever get to be the creature that I'm always meant to be/But I thought, in spite of these, you will still be standing here with me."

9 Moby - Natural Blues
Why hadn't anyone thought of it? Moby ransacked the blues catalogue for samples, and came up with this sad gem. If only people would look harder. Spine-tingling moment: "Ooh lord, my troubles so hard." Proof that blues sound blue in any context.

8 The Chemical Brothers - Setting Sun
Pile up the beats, noodle up some synth noise, and invade the arena. Chemical Brothers' monstrous sound is suitable for caverns, and this frenetic track jacks up the thrill factor of electronica forever. No wimpy synth lines from this on. Spine-tingling moment: After Noel Gallagher finishes his chorus, Godzilla stomps in on a wicked synth screech.

7 Aphex Twin - Come To Daddy
The aural equivalent of thrash metal, Richard E James rewrites the extremes of electronic sonic terrorism on this brutal track. Buzzsaw noises rip through the song, and when James exhorts "I want your soul", you better give in. Otherwise, your ears will hurt. Spine-tingling moment: Actually, it's the ground-breaking, absolutely mind-bending music video that will scare you witless.

6 Basement Jaxx - Where's Your Head At?
If Aphex Twin is the one-man hellraiser, then Basement Jaxx are his more well-adjusted cousins. Manic, endlessly inventive, always infectious, the duo's party anthems like this stormer define everything good about electronica. Best listened to when you're drunk and able to blabber the song title like a mindless slob. Spine-tingling moment: Everybody now: "WHERE'S? YOUR? HEAD? AT??????"

5 Depeche Mode - Never Let Me Down Again
Ah, the definitive synth band. No other group crafted more albums using synthesisers as their primary musical tool. And they lasted this long on the sole merit of crafting indelible songs. This is a personal favourite because it sounds so massive while meaning so little. But who cares about the lyrics, when the melodies crash on you like a tidal wave. Spine-tingling moment: The main synth line reminds me of an endless desert, I don't know why.

4 Nine Inch Nails - Closer
I'm putting this "band" here because, really, industrial is electronica with guitars. And Trent Reznor is the only worthwhile industrial artiste. His rage may get a little tiresome after a while, but when he turns it on and produces a masterpiece like this, you forgive him. Amid in sub-human electronic landscape, NIN whispers, whimpers, whines and finally wallops you into submission. The Ghost in the shell, no doubt. Spine-tingling moment: "I wanna fuck you like an animal." The ballsiest chorus, ever.

3 Kraftwerk - The Robots
The grand-daddies of electronica, unsurprisingly, are German scientists. "Ve hav vays to make you twitch!" they must have thought. And so they proceeded to hynotise us with bleeps and wheezes repeated ad nauseum. Geniuses. Spine-tingling moment: The robotised vocals are a nice, dehumanised touch.

2 New Order - True Faith
People devalue this band because they arose from Joy Division. Stupid, because even without Ian Curtis, the musical trio that soldiered on are surely one of the most inventive of any genre. Every moment this spell-binding song drips brilliance. The opening drum synth, the bass melody to introduce the song, the supportive synth notes in the chorus, Bernard Sumner's plaintive yet desperate lyrics and the squiggly guitar solo. Perfect. Spine-tingling moment: It really is a thrill-a-second ride.

1 Massive Attack - Protection
This song made me stop my car by the kerbside. It requires absolute quietude and solitude to reveal its devastating heart. The whole song is an exercise in subtlety. Tracey Thorn speaks of utter devotion to protect her lover with her tremendous understatedness. No vocal leaps needed. Then, the music - patiently rolling out its emotions for eight minutes, gently supporting Thorn with echoed guitar stabs, stop-start rhythms and an unforgettable piano line - will tug your heartstrings the way no other electronica song can. I was misty-eyed after the first spin. Pure love. Spine-tingling moment: For a guy, nothing chills like Thorn singing: "Stand in front you, take the force of the blow, protection" again and again and again.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Top 25 Metal songs

Where do you go after the mindless fun of hard rock? For me, I went deeper into the seriously gloomy side of heavy metal. Here's where the guitars get more malevolent, the singers get more menacing, and the lyrics get more heavy-handed. Not suitable for would-be serial killers.

Yet, it is the best ground to learn your guitar chops. If you can play the Metallica songs, master the Dream Theater epics, and keep up with Slayer's high-speed riffs, you can play anything else.

I've outgrown the era of buzzsaw guitars and double-pump drums, but here's 25 metal songs that I still like.

25 Kittie - What I Always Wanted
An all-girl thrash metal band? Sounds good! I would love an MTV segment where the members of Kittie would throttle every girl band in the world. Or force them to listen to this brutal dirge. Morgan Lander's guttural howl is something new, but certainly not pretty to the ears. Spine-tingling moment: When Lander alternates between a sweet voice and THAT growl in the verses.

24 Iron Maiden - Run To The Hills
I like their zombie mascot, Eddie, better than the band, but this track is tremendous fun. The twin guitars' furious gallop is a thrill, and Bruce Dickinson's vocals capture the quintessential era of NWOBM (New Wave of British Metal). Spine-tingling moment: The classic chorus: "Run to the hills! Run for your lives!"

23 Motorhead - Ace Of Spades
Lemmy sounds like the bike rider from hell, and he sums up the devil-may-care attitude of heavy metal in this anthem. Filthy good. Spine-tingling moment: Check the first verse: "The pleasure is to play, it makes no difference what you say, I don't share your greed, the only card I need is the Ace Of Spades!" Amen.

22 Tool - Sober
The weirdest metal band and, by far, the most haunting. Tool evoke a sense of imminent dread on this song with the barest of tools (pardon the pun). Two chords are enough to evoke a suicidal mood. Spine-tingling moment: The song's chilling by itself, but if you see the music video, featuring a tortured meat puppet, it will depress you like nothing else.

21 Slipknot - Left Behind
A brutal band, a brutal sound. Slipknot's relentless barrage is intimidating for many, so it's a welcomed respite when this "softer" song kicks in. Note that "soft" is relative: it's still an intense, crushing song. But at least Joey Taylor sings on this - not exactly a good thing, given the suicidal lyrics. Spine-tingling moment: The tense opening riff. Unpleasant, but in a good way.

20 Korn - Blind
Metal innovators, with their rumbling, seven-string guitar heroics. Korn ushered metal into the modern age with their intense, always interesting records. This is the first song on their debut, and what an evocative, striking sound they create. Spine-tingling moment: Jonathan Davis asks: "Are you ready?" Cue the heaviest guitar sound ever heard.

19 Metallica - Enter Sandman
The best metal band, hands down. Even in their later days, when they simplified their thunderous attack, their songs still hit with bone-crushing effect. This is their biggest hit, and features a detonating riff summoning all the bad things in your nightmares. Crunchy. Spine-tingling moment: The hushed prayer after the solo is a chilling touch.

18 Dream Theater - Erotomania
Dream Theater's gift is to make progressive metal accessible for all, without sacrificing the bold, intricate touches. My only gripe about this top-notch band is the soulless singer, so this lengthy instrumental is adequate. The way the band flies through the toughest riffs and rhythms is simply jaw-dropping. Spine-tingling moment: John Petrucci's solos are things of wonder, and you'll be lifting your jaws from the floor when he finishes his final solo.

17 Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train
All aboard! Demented rant from metal's biggest daddy, made spectacular by Randy Rhoads' elegant six-string heroics. Rhoads was often compared to Eddie Van Halen in terms of innovation and dexterity but, in terms of heaviness, he was tops. Just when you think the opening riff cannot be bettered, in comes another, and another, and another. Spine-tingling moment: The verse riff feels like sitting in a race car. Adrenaline rush alert.

16 Danzig - Mother
This one stands out because of its sheer minimalistic pleasure. Metal songs are prone to over-elaboration, but this song is tight, lean and sinewy. Not to mention insanely catchy, although I wouldn't like to sing this song on Mother's Day. Spine-tingling moment: Glenn Danzig puts all the hatred into his voice when he screams "Mother!" in the verses.

15 Tool - Ticks And Leeches
Eight minutes of unbridled fury, as Tool pour out their bile at their record company execs and lawyers for a protracted battle of their songs rights. This thunderous epic slashes through extreme mood changes - the quiet middle section seethes with rage before exploding in an orgy of tribal drumming and buzzsaw guitars. Spine-tingling moment: Maynard James Keenan screams "SUUUUUUUUUUUCK MEEEEEEE DRYYYY!" as if he is up to his neck with the creepy-crawlies in the song title.

14 Pantera - Regular People (Conceit)
Thumping headbanger that's buried deep inside the excellent "Vulgar Display Of Power" album. Pantera ratchet up the thrill factor in thrash metal by several notches during their heydays. Dimebag Darrell's gift was conjuring crushing riffs effortlessly, and this one features a few. Add Phil Anselmo's drill sergeant rants, and you'll want to bash anything near your path when listening to this song. Spine-tingling moment: Anselmo gets under your skin when he growls: "Most regular people will say it's hard, but any streetwise son of a bitch knows, don't fuck with this!" Grrrrrrrrrr.......

13 Slayer - Angel Of Death
The most extreme metal band that walked the earth. For a long time, I was scared to listen to their songs, for fear I would turn evil and murderous. That's how nasty their lyrics were. The music was also terrifying with its sheer velocity and brutality. This one, off their masterpiece "Reign In Blood", takes the cake for the horror the band are capable of. As Tom Araya describes in graphic detail how Nazi doctor Josef Mengeles conducted deadly experiments on Jews, the guitars screech in mimicking the victims' cries. Sickening. Spine-tingling moment: The guitar solo, tag-teamed by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. Terrifying.

12 Metallica - Master Of Puppets
Awesome diatribe on powerlessness by metal's most influential band. Before Metallica were mainstream monsters, they were breaking boundaries for metal. Elaborate song structures and bone-rattling riffs are the norm, and this one pulls out all the tricks in the bag. Spine-tingling moment: There are two. The harmonised guitars at the middle section is Metallica at their majestic heights, and the maniacal laughter that ends the song is a nice touch.

11 Faith No More - Land Of Sunshine
Chris Patton is metal's clown prince, and his band complements his hair-pin mood swings ably in this sardonic anthem. And Jim Martin is an underrated guitarist because he's so economical. Yet, FNM are never the same when he left. Spine-tingling moment: For a moment, you think the lyrics are optimistic. Then Patton lets loose a barrage of manical laughs. Oh.

10 Dream Theater - Under A Glass Moon
Progressive metal are notorious for their over-elaboration. Thankfully, Dream Theater know how much excessive musicianship is good for us. This is a whirlwind of rattling double-pump drums, wicked time signature changes and excellent riffs. It makes the castrato singing almost bearable. Spine-tingling moment: The stop-start rhythm that announces the instrumental bridge will mess with your mind. Where's one?

9 Sepultura - Roots Bloody Roots
This Brazilian band toil gamely under the music radar and produced some outstanding thrash metal albums, full of fiery guitars and monstrous solos. This one does away with soloing, and adds tribal drums into the potent mix of raging growls and rumbling guitars. Magnifico. Spine-tingling moment: When Andreas Kisser howls "Roots! Bloody roots!", as if his tribe is meeting its bloody end.

8 Metallica - Wherever I May Roam
In terms of song arrangement, Metallica are second to none. They know when to hold back, and when to pummel you senseless. The shifts in dynamics propel this song to awesome heights. A eastern-tinged sitar roars into a mighty riff, then speeds up to drive the song into the verse, and this is just the intro. James Hetfield knows what's good for us. Spine-tingling moment: Lars Ulrich comes in with the mightiest snare drum ever heard.

7 Korn - Freak On A Leash
Metal's mad scientists throw in dissonant noises, strange noodlings and odd rhythms into a potent brew, and concoct a seriously-addictive sound. On songs like these, they offer a path for metal's future, although not many have the inventiveness to continue on their trailblazing path. Spine-tingling moment: Singer Jonathan Davis suddenly breaks into an utterly insane bridge, where he whines, growls and grunts his way through the cacophony.

6 Pantera - Mouth For War
The redneck guardians of good-time thrash metal, Pantera refuse to budge from their calling - brutal, unpredictable songs that advocate non-violence and straight-edge living. Paradoxic it may be, but the intricate riffs and devil-may-care attitude influenced practically every 1990s metal band to go heavier and with less morbidness. RIP Dimebag Darrell, metal guitar god. Spine-tingling moment: Nothing beats the opening torrent of riffs.

5 Tool - Schism
Unique among all metalheads, Tool bring their exceptional musicianship into the murks of gloom, and craft intriguing masterpieces that bear countless revisits. This song twist and turns through a myriad of moods and Maynard James Keenan's obtuse lyrics. The result is a haunting epic that eats at your conscience slowly. Spine-tingling moment: The weird bassline propels the song into otherwordly depths.

4 Megadeth - Holy Wars...The Punishment Due
It's hard to make metal songs swing, given their unrelenting pace. But somehow Megadeth succeeds to creating masterful epics full of swagger and sway. Even on bleak songs like this, there is a sense of groove that most gloom merchants ignore. Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman perfect the art of guitar duelling, and they spit first-class riffs and solos like few others here. Spine-tingling moment: Mustaine conjures a brain-rattling opening riff as Friedman adds exquisite lines. Beauty amid the beast.

3 Slayer - Hell Awaits
Like the scariest horror movies you've seen, Slayer at their extreme best (worst?) fill the mind with fearful thoughts and unshakeable dread. "Reign In Blood" may be their best album, but this is their trademark song. The topic of choice? Why, of devils and demons taking over the earth, of course. Be prepared to be dragged, still screaming, into the pits of hell. Spine-tingling moment: The eeriest opening I've heard - ungodly growls with backward chanting. Then the band marches in with demonic force - literally sounding like an army of darkness closing in on you.

2 Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
The birth of heavy metal. Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward create the biggest, sludgiest, most ominous sound in 1970, and thousands of youths were drawn in, like rats to the pied piper. The genius is to make their songs sound like a thrill instead of a dirge, and Osbourne's gleeful take on the bleak lyrics is a total gas. Makes you want to laugh evilly, like Dr Evil. Spine-tingling moment: Ozzy's tragi-comic wail at the end of each verse: "Oh no, please God help me!"

1 Metallica - Fade To Black
There is nothing this band cannot excel in. James Hetfield creates brilliant riffs with his eyes closed, but on this one, he reaches for geniune, gut-wrenching emotions. A bleak lament in imminent suicide, I was struck by the real pain Hetfield draws from two simple verses. The music is flawless, starting with morose acoustic guitars and a sorrowful Kirk Hammett solo. The acoustic guitars continue with some flourishes before the crunching distortion summons the wordless chorus. The sudden charge into gloom midway speaks of no way out, and Hammett's elegant final solo sounds like the last thoughts before a life is taken. Shattering. Spine-tingling moment: The glum synth that opens the song. No love ballad here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Top 25 Hard Rock songs

Ahh, the good old days of 1980s big-haired hard rock. I will cheerfully admit that it was the songs from this genre that inspired me to pick up a guitar. Mat rock it may be, and there are some truly god-awful bands, but the guitar solos, wailing vocals and chicks in their music videos left an indelible impression on me when I was 13.

So here are 25 headbanging anthems to play air guitar to =)

25 Joe Satriani - Always With Me, Always With You
The guitar teacher who rocked. His early stuff are filled with mind-bending solos, and I can hardly play any of them - except this one, a more ballady instrumental. Satch's genius is in composing memorable guitar phrasings, and this song is full of classy, never showy, passages. Spine-tingling moment: The liquid-like finger-tapping solo.

24 Van Halen - Eruption
One minute, 42 seconds of sheer guitar acrobatics from the most innovative guitarist ever, Eddie Van Halen. Jaw-dropping. Spine-tingling moment: A third into the frenzied shredding, EVH strums really quickly and his guitar sounds like it's flying away.

23 White Lion - When The Children Cry
Ah, the requisite acoustic-based ballad hit for every hard rock act. All are sappy, but at least this one deals with a noble cause - helping children (not in the Michael Jackson way =p). Spine-tingling moment: Vito Bratta's carefully-constructed intro fading in. Listen once, and you know it's not a love song.

22 Motley Crue - Dr Feelgood
The ultimate hard rock bad boys, this galloping monster was cut when they sobered up. Wise move, as the anti-drug sentiments hit home with sheer malevolence. Spine-tingling moment: The murderous intro, like a bulldozer ripping through a path, returning midway through the song.

21 Aerosmith - Livin' On The Edge
Longevity usually leads to tedium for rock bands, save for a few outstanding ones. Aerosmith's second wind in the late 1980s is decidedly tamer than their wild incarnation in the 1970s, but they have occasional gems like this one. Joe Perry's eastern-tinged riff is married to Steven Tyler's manic delivery. Weirdly evocative. Spine-tingling moment: Any time Perry's riff comes in.

20 Guns N' Roses - Civil War
Go ahead, name me another big-haired hard rock band that dares to write such strident anti-war songs. GN'R had the biggest balls during their peak years, and this song is proof of their audacity. Tempo changes, mood swings, highly-charged lyrics and, of course, Axl Rose's unforgettable wail. Chilling. Spine-tingling moment: When Axl Rose launches into the stratosphere: "My hands are tied!"

19 Jeff Healey - Angel Eyes
The soulful guitar grabs you on first listen and never lets go, turning a so-so love song into a tender, teary heart-tugger. Then you find out that Healey is blind. Awesome. Spine-tingling moment: The tasteful outro solo. Restrained, yet utterly passionate.

18 Bon Jovi - Bed Of Roses
I once had a big argument with my platoon mate, who said Bon Jovi was better than Guns N' Roses. What a wimp. Still, Jon and Richie and gang did come up with some good tunes. This one stands out because the band never sounded more restrained and touching. Spine-tingling moment: Ironically, their restraint makes Jon Bon Jovi's final leap up the vocal ladder much more stunning as he screams: "For tonight I'll sleep on a bed of nails."

17 Kiss - God Of Thunder
Cartoonish menace is never done better than these four dudes in copious make-up. The stomping riff is added to Gene Simmons' wicked lyrics. Thoroughly infectious. Spine-tingling moment: Kiss never wrote a nastier riff than on this song.

16 AC/DC - Back In Black
Where did that vocal come from? Brian Johnson's screech is one-of-a-kind, as are the Young brothers' clobbering riffs. This classic builds on an unforgettable opening line, and never lets up. Intensely fun. Spine-tingling moment: Dun, dun-dun-dun, dun-dun-dun. Riff language at its best =)

15 Velvet Revolver - Fall To Pieces
Slash was the first rocker to inspire me to play guitar. His guitar lines are always thrilling, and I practically aped his guitar tone when I started out. This song does not belong to the hard rock era, being released only last year. Yet, his nuanced riffs still manages to lift and excite. Spine-tingling moment: Scott Weiland may sing "Fall to pieces, I'm falling", but Slash never lets him, with soaring phrases throughout.

14 Guns N' Roses - November Rain
Generally, I dislike overblown, bombastic, orchestra-tinged epics. Those songs always sounded fake. This is the exception. What makes this song memorable is the way the multiple instruments are given space to breathe. The orchestra take centrestage first in the intro, then Axl Rose sings behind some soft guitars and piano, then Slash cuts two exquisite solos before the coda hurtles into hard rock territory. The results, ironically, is GN'R's most tender ballad. Spine-tingling moment: The first guitar solo. Romantic hard rock at its best.

13 Lenny Kravitz - Again
The odd man out of the bunch of big-hair, small-brain rockers, Kravitz almost threw this gem away, only to include it in his "Best of" compilation. Lucky for us, because this is first-class yearning, complemented by Lenny's best guitar solo. Spine-tingling moment: The chorus is simple, but utterly aching.

12 Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues
Ahhh, vintage mat rock territory here. You just have to cut your teeth in guitar soloing with this epic lament. Every moment of this ballad swells with Moore's gut-wrenching guitar. Riffs are for weaklings here, every line is sheer improvisational brilliance. Spine-tingling moment: The opening four notes. Sadness personified.

11 The Darkness - I Believe In A Thing Called Love
Insanely funny homage to hard rock, done remarkably over-the-top in this cynical decade. Trust a British band to come up with a killer riff, a crazed frontman and a much-needed humour as we look back fondly to the hair-metal era. I believe in a thing called love, indeed. Spine-tingling moment: Justin Hawkins' wild falsetto reaches insanely-high pitch before the final chorus.

10 Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird
Impossibly beautiful ballad is grafted onto some epic jamming. Meaning: a masturbatory delight for any aspiring rock guitarist. Check out the live version, which is even wilder than the nine-minute jam-a-thon of the studio version. Spine-tingling moment: I prefer the most subtle part - the slide guitar that permeates the verses.

9 The Black Crowes - She Talks To Angels
Top-notch acoustic-based ballad, this one puts all the other sappy acoustic love ballads to shame. A dreamy mood permeates, as Chris Robinson draws out a soulful vocal performance that eclipses most other screamers of the 1980s. Spine-tingling moment: The opening riff is the best lick the Rolling Stones never had.

8 Aerosmith - Sweet Emotion
Many prefer "Walk This Way" as the definitive early Aerosmith classic, but I prefer this, a far-heavier rocker. The otherworldly, talk-box intro never prepares one enough for the brutal stomp afterwards. Yet, Aerosmith manages to swing amid the assault, and that's what makes them tick for so long. Spine-tingling moment: The band combine for one hell of a pummelling riff after each verse.

7 Guns N' Roses - Paradise City
Is there anything this band cannot do? They arrived without much warning, and mowed down every hair harmer with a sneer and a middle-finger salute. I love this band; this song is their frenetic, ferocious best. A great intro leads into a dirty verse riff, leads into a majestic chorus, leads into a murderous solo, leads into a chilling bridge and, finally, ending in cacophonic chaos. Add Axl Rose's mad-as-hell lyrics, and headbanging action is necessary to let off the steam. Spine-tingling moment: When Axl screams "So far away!" at the bridge, and you know all redemption is lost in the urban squalor. Paradise City, indeed.

6 Stone Temple Pilots - Interstate Love Song
Grunge? Don't think so. How about a superb hard rock band? STP came out at the wrong time, endured ridiculous bad press and wrote stunners like this. The perfect song for a long drive in your car, this one evokes long journeys in solitude as the band strips away all the hard-rock flab for this sinewy classic. Spine-tingling moment: The intro sounds like it's played in a ghost town. Desolate, yet alluring.

5 Def Leppard - Love Bites
The perfect hair-metal rocker, it is hard to not like this song. Poppy, yet never sappy, Def Leppard craft their songs like mini-symphonies, and this one ebbs and flows with tremendous power. Seething in menace, then exploding in swirls of vocal harmonies, it has a way of grabbing you and never letting go. Spine-tingling moment: Steve Clark's shattering solo. Simple, yet powerful.

4 AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long
Lascivious fun. Killer grooves. Stirring solos. Irrepressible catchiness. Angus Young and gang should make this genre their copyright. No one defines hard rock better. Spine-tingling moment: The singalong chorus personifies simple, sexy fun.

3 Tesla - Love Song
This is the rare song that is not instantly likeable, yet grows increasingly more beautiful with age. There is a wondrous acoustic intro, so meticulously constructed that you never realise its complexity. The same can be said for the other parts of the song. Marvellously straight-forward, yet staggeringly intricate. It's a joy picking out the nuances. Spine-tingling moment: The intro still gets me after all these years.

2 Van Halen - Jump
It was audacious, to say the least. Eddie Van Halen, playing a keyboard riff??? Hell, why not, so long as it is the most recognisable, most infectious, most joyful riff I have ever heard. It is impossible to stay seated once the riff starts. And when the song fades out, you are left with only a gleeful smile. Of course, Eddie pumps out a scorching solo, just to make us guitar freaks happy. Spine-tingling moment: Like I said, the riff does just one thing: capture the sheer magic that is 1980s hard rock.

1 Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine
This song is a switch. The instant I listened to it, I started embracing rock and roll, and never looked back on pop fluff anymore. It's that shattering. By itself, it is already a tremendous classic. No other song introduced itself better than the thrilling, celestial riff Slash concocted for this. (An aside: This intro gets the loudest cheers whenever played in sports events, even after all these years. Magical.) The sweet lyrics epitomised romantic yearning; Axl Rose never sounded so emotional. Add Slash's angsty solo, and the less-than-optimistic outro, and I was as if struck by lightning at my first listen. The wonderful world of rock beckoned. I never regretted. Thanks, GN'R, for this transcendent piece of magic. Spine-tingling moment: The whole song. Duh.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Fade To Black

RIP Karol Wojtyla and Terri Schiavio.

Just a thought that entered my mind when the Pope was slipping in and out of unconsciousness: If he should ever stay in a coma, I can bet my whole life that no one will dare to unplug his life support machine, a la Mr Schiavio.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Top 25 Brit Pop songs

I love this list, cuz it reminds me of my university life which, frankly, is the best time of my life. This is when modern British bands created magical music - full of wit and utterly hummable.

It was the era in which the British started to like themselves again, and produced some of the most powerful music heard around the world, even in the US. Although the second British Invasion never happened (bands self-destructed again), the songs are far better than the hip-hop crap in the States.

Here's 25 of my favourites.

25 The La's - There She Goes
No, Sixpence None The Richer are not the original artistes of this bittersweet pop gem. It belongs to this one-hit wonder band, and what a timeless song this is. Cut in 1990, it still sounds appealing in 2005. Spine-tingling moment: When singer Lee Mavers leaps into the falsetto as he sings "There she goes, there she goes again." Cue goosebumps.

24 Elastica - Connection
Damon Albarn's ex-girlfriend, Justine Frischmann, proves she is quite capable of a sneering kiss-off like this song, albeit her band's sole hit. She hits all the right notes in this one - sarcastic in the verses, then nonchalantly utters "Somehow a vital connection is made" in the chorus. Dripping with attitude. Spine-tingling moment: The ringing guitar line that comes after the chorus.

23 Embrace - Wonder
What a majestic ballad this is. Without dripping into saccharine, Embrace crafted a beautiful, aching song that grabbed me from the first guitar strum. Spine-tingling moment: Subtle guitar fill after the first line of the first verse. Genius.

22 Doves - There Goes The Fear
Seven minutes of galloping brilliance from Manchester's finest band of the moment. Doves evoke a rarity in pop music: patience. Their winding songs take their time to reveal their treasures, and this song is a treat for any britpop fans. Spine-tingling moment: The opening chime of guitars.

21 The Libertines - Time For Heroes
This band win the prize for the fastest self-destruction by a britpop band, lead singer Pete Doherty burning out in drugs as this is written. Yet, they offer a wondrous respite to the drudge of wimpy songs churned out of Britain this decade. This is a swift kick in the arse, as Doherty sneers at his fellow countrymen for apeing America. Spine-tingling moment: Out of nowhere, a raw guitar solo pops in.

20 Oasis - Stop Cryin' Your Heart Out
The definitive britpop band, one of my favourites. This song managed to ruin the entire "Heathen Chemistry" album for me - I didn't bother to listen the songs that come after this tearjerker. The one moment of magic left in Noel Gallagher, although I hope not. Spine-tingling moment: If you don't sing along to the chorus, you must be dead.

19 The Streets - Dry Your Eyes
Uniquely British. Mike Skinner's light rap fails to hide the heavy heart of an imminent break-up with a girlfriend. "There's plenty more fish in the sea," so he comforts himself. But, one guesses, it is always heartbreaking. Spine-tingling moment: When the strings glide in to announce that it's over.

18 Pulp - Disco 2000
Lest you think britpop is all moping about, in came this deliciously addictive song. Like a rush of adrenaline, Jarvis Cocker steers us through a strangely platonic relationship with a giggle. Spine-tingling moment: The pay-off line: "You can even bring your baby." Nothing else to say, but "Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh."

17 Blur - No Distance Left To Run
Blur always sounded cold to me. Damon Albarn drips sarcasm, but he seems so detached in every song - except on this one. Back story: he just broke up with Justine Frischmann (see above). End product: Suitably morose dirge as you hear Albarn's heart break slowly. Spine-tingling moment: Graham Coxon's genius never shone brighter than his guitar lines here.

16 Keane - Somewhere Only We Know
A mighty sound with just pianos and drums. Tom Chaplin's boyish voice then cuts through with choir-like clarity. Who cares if they look like nice and proper boys? Spine-tingling moment: When the piano hits the higher notes, and Chaplin wails "If you have a minute, why don't we go?"

15 Coldplay - The Scientist
Coldplay score with their sincerity, and nowhere is this clearer than on this heartrending ballad. Chris Martin's soaring voice tugs at every heart strings, while the band wisely stay out of the spotlight. Spine-tingling moment: Goosebump alert as Martin leaps into the wordless coda.

14 Snow Patrol - Run
One of the best stories of belated success, Snow Patrol released two previous albums that bombed, and decided last year to call it a day after releasing their third, aptly titled "Final Straw". Then radio picked up this exquisite ballad, and they finally made it big. The "lighter-waving", weepie type of song which is actually brilliant. Spine-tingling moment: Bravery in gloom as Gary Lightbody sings: "Lighten up, lighten up, as if you have a choice."

13 The Smiths - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
I got into The Smiths late and, as a result, didn't really appreciate their ground-breaking music when it came out in the mid 1980s. Probably the first britpop band, this is their most prototypical single. Morrissey's woe-is-me lyrics is countered by Johnny Marr's magical guitars. No wonder every band caught on. Spine-tingling moment: Any time Morrissey drops out and Marr's guitars come to the forefront. Jangly brilliance.

12 Manic Street Preachers - Motorcycle Emptiness
Not exactly britpop, but the genre will be nothing without the confrontational attitude of their early years. "The Holy Bible" may be the bleakest album of this genre, and this song from their debut album "Generation Terrorists" hints at the desperation to come. Spine-tingling moment: The looping guitar riff, courtesy of the vanished Richey Edwards. (Edit: Oops, me friend Pinkerman says it's actually James Dean Bradfield. Richey just holds the guitar.)

11 Travis - Turn
Travis fall just short of greatness, because their super-lightweight songs simply could not be hard-hitting. That's not to say they are bad, because on songs like this, they create a palpable and palatable optimism rare in the other sneering bands. Hey, don't blame them for being nice people. Spine-tingling moment: Fran Healy never sang with more conviction than on this wondrous chorus.

10 Oasis - Wonderwall
The most famous song of this genre. One of the best love songs too, as Noel Gallagher lays his heart bare - not exactly with his cryptic lyrics (really, what's a wonderwall anyway), but with his understated arrangement. The song could be destroyed at any moment that Noel pumps up the bombast, but he never spoils it. The strings murmur, brother Liam's vocals remain calm, and the guitars chime of utter devotion. Spine-tingling moment: The simple piano riff at the end. Sheer class.

9 Suede - The Wild Ones
Suede exude an simple honesty amid a world of decadence, and Brett Anderson can pull it off only with Bernard Butler. On this luminous ballad, two lovers pledge devotion in a dirty world, as Butler intertwines with Anderson's unique vocals for a singular sound. Spine-tingling moment: Another falsetto-leaping moment, as Anderson croons "We'll be the wild ones running with the dogs today" and Butler noodles up an exqusite guitar line.

8 Teenage Fanclub - Star Sign
The "Smells Like Teen Spirit" of britpop. Sheer lunatic catchiness, complete with crushing guitars and nonchalant lyrics. If you don't start singing to the chorus on first listen, something's wrong with you. Spine-tingling moment: The vocal melody, effortlessly catchy.

7 The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony
Superb piece of bile, rendered beautiful by a stunning string section. You can never tell Richard Ashcroft's angry lyrics from the sweeping music, but as he intones "Try to make ends meet, you're slave to the money, then you die", it is nihilism at its best. Spine-tingling moment: What else? The violins are the most unique voice of the britpop generation. So what if it's stolen from the Rolling Stones?

6 Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
This one caught me totally off-guard. I had thought I've heard it all, then in crashes this masterpiece in innovation. You want a complete rhythm change? Check. You want double-entredre lyrics? Got it. You want all of this angular music, and still remain catchy? Why not? Franz Ferdinand pull off what must surely be the most invigorating song last year. Spine-tingling moment: So many of them, none as dramatic as when rock turns into disco, about one minute into this gem.

5 Coldplay - Yellow
The one moment of transcendence in britpop. This powerful love song cuts through all races, all countries and all music tastes to be certified a bona-fide classic. It's an insane rush of honest love and devotion, as Chris Martin and gang nail every second of this wondrous rocker. Spine-tingling moment: When Martin opens his mouth for the first time: "Look at the stars..."

4 Pulp - Common People
Witty sarcasm from britpop's most evocative band. Not only does Jarvis Cocker take the piss out of middle-class snobs, but he also paints a dead accurate picture of the urban squall where the common people live. That's what my friend Neil from Dagenham tells me. Add the wonderfully supportive music, and no wonder the Americans don't get it. Spine-tingling moment: "I took her to the supermarket, I don't know why but I had to start somewhere, so it started.....there." Cheeky bastard.

3 The Cure - Pictures Of You
The odd band, out of step with every musical direction, yet influential beyond its years. Britpop is known for bittersweet romantic yearnings, and Robert Smith is the prime architect of such affecting music. This song is his masterpiece, a moving paean to a lost love handled with complete grace. The instrumentation is icy, soaring and memorable, Smith's vocals never sounded so aching, and the result is sheer beauty. Spine-tingling moment: The lengthy intro builds up to such momentum that Smith can only tumble blindly in.

2 The Stone Roses - I Am The Resurrection
In the three-year apex of this seminal band, the Stone Roses changed the sonic landscape of British music. Equally embracing rock and dance, they swaggered into the limelight with deathless songs which bear repeated listening to discern the dense layers of beauty. This song is the moment where the band realised how far they can take their style. The thumping drums, the bouncy bass, Ian Brown's thuggish vocals, and John Squire's glorious guitar collide for eight minutes of bliss. No more synth-based indie music from this song onwards. Spine-tingling moment: When Squire's guitar finally enters at the first chorus.

1 Oasis - Live Forever
When British music became relevant to the world again. The spark that ignited the world of britpop, the launch of the (now-aborted) British Invasion, etc etc etc. Whatever. To me, it marks the point where I abandoned heavy metal. It's such a perfect song. It rocks, but the guitars hide a tender love song. It is insanely catchy, but not mawkish. It swaggers, yet one can embrace the arrogance. Yeah, I jumped on the bandwagon, but it's a mighty fine bandwagon to jump onto. Spine-tingling moment: Every time Liam Gallagher sings "Maybe......"

Top 10 Grunge songs

Before I go in my next list, just wanna qualify what I would deem as worthy of my list. The song has to make me perk up (not an easy thing =D), listen through and at least make me ponder at the lyrics or marvel at the music. The best songs usually feels like an electric jolt - either you want to twitch your body to the music, or just stare into space in "shock".

Anyway, I'm starting with genres that have a specific time frame, like the top 15 modern rock list where most songs come from the late 1990s to this decade. These are easier to compile.

So we have grunge, which specifically belongs to the early 1990s. This is the era when alternative rock met mainstream rock, when punk met metal. The result is a superb collection of songs culled from some top-notch rock bands. Most grunge songs are gloomy, but they portray an honest view of life that was sorely lacking in the mainstream at that time.

Since the actual time-span of grunge lasted about five years, there are not much songs to choose from. So there's only 10 in this list.

10 Days Of The New - Touch, Peel And Stand
A very quaint band, led by a young, depressed man called Travis Meeks. After their debut album, containing this song, was released, he sacked the whole band, and produced two more albums all by himself. All three albums are eponymous. Weird guy. This song stands out because amid all the electric guitar murk of grunge, this is completely acoustic. Not to say it's not heavy - in fact, this tale of seething anger is more chilling with the acoustic guitars banging away. Spine-tingling moment: The beautiful guitar solo, a rarity in grunge.

9 Mudhoney - Overblown
The prime jokesters of grunge, Mudhoney's sarcasm knows no boundaries. This one, on the Singles OST, gives the finger to all the posers who hopped onto the grunge bandwagon. It's hilarious, and scathing in its attack. Spine-tingling moment: The final verse: "Everybody loves us, everybody's getting kind of old, couldn't hold a regular job, long live rock and roll!"

8 Temple Of The Dog - Hunger Strike
A supergroup before the members became famous. This one-off project brought together members from Soundgarden and Pearl Jam to cut a tribute to Mother Love Bone's lead singer Andrew Wood, who OD'ed. The treat is listening to Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell, two of the best rock vocalists of all time, trade lines and pushing each other. Spine-tingling moment: Vedder's baritone intoning "I'm not hungry" in the chorus, then Cornell's lung-bursting scream to repeat the phrase.

7 Alice In Chains - Would?
Alice In Chains leaned towards metal more than any grunge bands, but their economical riffs and utterly depressing songs never sat well in the hair metal bands. This one is their triumph in their desperate and desolate "Dirt" album, surely the most abject grunge record. A simple riff, coupled with thundering drums, sets the pace for the only optimistic song written by the band. Spine-tingling moment: The coda, where the guitars become more brutal, as Layne Staley asks: "Am I wrong, have I gone too far to get home?" Sad. RIP Layne.

6 Pearl Jam - Love Boat Captain
Ironically, the band who were treated as sell-outs became the genre's longest-lasting band, still churning out top-notch albums. A load of rubbish really, the sell-out claims - Pearl Jam are the flagbearers of honest, emotional grunge. This song, coming 10 years after their first album, is so naked, so assured, that it is still a treat for a long-time fan like me. Spine-tingling moment: When Eddie Vedder whispers: "I know it's already been sung, can't be sang enough. Love is all you need, all you need is love." Simple, yet devastating.

5 Hole - Violet
I never liked Courtney Love, and she's long worn out her welcome on the celebrity stage. But this song, made when her band meant something, is a spellbinding piece of fury. Grunge is noted for its acceptance of women rock vocalists, and Love is positively snarling throughout. Spine-tingling moment: Top-notch bile as Love spits: "Go on, take everything, take everything, I want you to!!!"

4 Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yeah, it's the song that changed the music scene forever. But in truth, it's not the best song on earth. Just happened to be released at the right time. Yes, it's insanely catchy, but that's it. The lyrics don't cut it for me, no matter how many times I headbanged to it. Spine-tingling moment: Plenty, but the clean intro still aptly sets up the thrills to come.

3 Soundgarden - Jesus Christ Pose
Armed with far more musical chops than any grunge band, Soundgarden created albums of wondrously noisy rock. This is one brutal track - feedback-drenched, killer riffing, murderous drumming, and of course, Chris Cornell's majestic wail. It hits you upon first listen, and never lets go, as the dense layers of music form a pummelling sheen for Cornell to spit out his sneering lyrics. A smack in the face, no less. Spine-tingling moment: From the opening feedback, it's a hellacious ride in primal, feral guitar rock.

2 Pearl Jam - Corduroy
Pearl Jam have made better singles, but this is their hidden jewel in the crown. Tucked deep in their "Vitalogy" album, it's the most disarming statement of intent of staying true to one's roots. Guitars intertwine as Vedder screams his list of declarations - "I don't wanna take what you can give, I would rather starve than eat your bread", "I don't wanna be held in your debt, I'll pay it off in blood", "I'll figure I'll be damned, all alone like I began". Tremendous, affecting stuff. Spine-tingling moment: The instrumental coda, no solos needed to ram home Vedder's point.

1 Nirvana - All Apologies
The last song on Nirvana's final studio album, this is the closure to grunge, a monumentally sad song that becomes even more unbearable following Kurt Cobain's demise. Pained resignation emits throughout the gentle song, as Cobain sounds weary of all the pitfalls of fame. Add a spidery guitar line, and it sounds like a goodbye to a wonderful era of music. Spine-tingling moment: "What else should I be, all apologies/What else should I say, everyone is gay" The heartbreaking opening lines.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Top 15 Modern Rock songs

I like music, and I like music lists. So I'm gonna use this blog to list some of my favourite songs. I've split them into different genres, cuz it's easier.

To kick things off, let's start with this new kind of post-Nirvana rock. Rumbling guitars, mixed with some rap, lots of anger. Many bands are not my cup of tea, but some songs stand out for their sheer impact. Here's 15 definitive modern rock tracks.

15 Deftones - Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)
Some serious dissonance to begin the song with, then - sheer simplicity. I can't believe how simple the riff is, and how huge it sounds. The whole song banks on that riff alone, and it packs a mean groove. Spine-tingling moment: You think the song is over, and then the band crashes back in again.

14 Hoobastank - The Reason
The moment of triumph from a so-so band. Everything clicks effortlessly - the riff, the melody, and the lyrics. One of the rare modern rock tracks that is hummable. Spine-tingling moment: The bridge: "And the reason is you...."

13 Incubus - Wish You Were Here
Another great effort from a mediocre band. At least they come up with very interesting guitar lines, and a made-for-arena-singalong chorus on this one. Spine-tingling moment: When the chiming guitars come in just before the first verse. Dreamy.

12 Chevelle - The Red
Lead singer Pete Loefler has a unique voice that carries this song aloft for longer than it should. Spine-tingling moment: When Pete launches into the final frenzy: "Seeing red again!!!!!"

11 Papa Roach - Between Angels And Insects
Modern rock is guilty of producing cliche-ridden bands, and Papa Roach is a typical, run-of-the-mill band of this genre - except on this supremely pissed-off track. "Last Resort" may be their breakthrough hit, but this one packs a mighty wallop from start till end. Listen to the band's brutal but economical interplay to hit home the chorus, and I wonder why they can't come up with more. Spine-tingling moment: That vulgar-ridden but utterly satisfying final chorus.

10 Andrew WK - Party Hard
The only song in this list that is not pissed off. Gleeful declaration to, what else, party hard. Kicks in like a breath of fresh air among the gloomy other bands. A pity all his other songs sound the same, and repeats the same theme. Spine-tingling moment: The robotic introduction: "When it's time to party, we will party hard", and the monstrous guitars kick in.

9 Limp Bizkit - Re-arranged
No other modern rock band self-destructed like Limp Bizkit. Guitarist Wes Borland knew Fred Durst will kill the band, so he bailed out - wisely. But not before he came up with this fiendishly inventive riff that complemented the band's most introspective song. I spent a few hours trying this riff, and gave up. Spine-tingling moment: Instead of loud, the chorus goes soft, the guitars quieten to a gurgle, and Durst mumbles threateningly: "You and me are through, and re-arranged."

8 Staind - It's Been Awhile
This song reminds me of a good time, ironically. I was on a three-week vacation in USA, met up with a long-time friend, and cruised together down the pacific highway to this song, which was played to death on radio. Memories aside, modern rock never sounded so wounded. Spine-tingling moment: After the storm, when the acoustic guitar fades in for one last time.

7 Creed - Torn
Here's another band that self-destructed because of internal strife, and a cringe-inducing frontman. But before all the overblown self-righteousness, they were a superb band, capable of moody, tension-filled epics such as this. Spine-tingling moment: Mark Tremonti is modern rock's rare sonic architect, coming up with memorable riffs with ease. His opening riff is sheer brilliance.

6 Linkin Park - Crawling
Wanna know the secret to Linkin Park's success? It's Chester Bennington's voice, or rather, his scream. It's the best wail since Soundgarden's Chris Cornell - edgy, pissed-off, and with a voice on the verge of tearing into shreds. Wisely, Bennington is economical with his gift, as on this track. So when he launches into the chorus, you can't help but like this lightweight modern rock band. Spine-tingling moment: Just before the chorus, when Bennington's anger reaches boiling point: "SO INSECURE!!!!"

5 Queens Of The Stone Age - No One Knows
Hands down, the best modern rock riff of this decade. Supremely groovy. Spine-tingling moment: What else?

4 Audioslave - Like A Stone
Trust veterans to come up with a classic. The musical force of Rage Against The Machine married with the lung-bursting vocals of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. Yet on this utterly beautiful track, the quartet have never sounded so subdued. A triumph of moody introspection. Spine-tingling moment: There are plenty in this, but none as tragic as when Cornell sings: "I'll wait for you there like a stone, I'll wait for you there alone."

3 Foo Fighters - Times Like These
Dave Grohl's band whips up memorable songs better than any modern rock outfit, and this song sums up everything good about rock today. An ear-catching riff, some wicked rhythms, a soaring verse and a chorus that seethes with determination to triumph in every adversity. Majestic. Spine-tingling moment: Exhausted after the screaming, Grohl still would not let go of the chorus at the end, and whispers: "It's times like these you learn to live again." Overwhelming.

2 Rage Against The Machine - Bulls On Parade
The prototypical modern rock song from its most inventive and political band. Don't really care what Zack de la Rocha is ranting about, but the sound is awesome. There are about five riffs in the song, all are gut-wrenching and innovative. Then it's THE guitar solo - 30 seconds of hip-hop scratching, as imitated by Tom Morello on his guitar. Sheer magic. Throw in the angry rapping, and it will detonate on your speakers. Spine-tingling moment: For the studio version, it's the solo. For the live version, check out the long synth intro before the band tumbles in. Breath-taking.

1 System Of A Down - Prison Song
This song got me speechless on the first spin. What was that???? Combining political rap-ranting, a galloping thrash-metal riff, some death metal grunts and strange guitar noodlings, Serj Tankian and gang WILL mow you down with this utterly incendiary track. Listen to him rage at drug policies in the middle break, it makes other modern rock bands sound like a wuss. Listen to the band's outrageous dexterity, and all other bands seem one-dimensional at best. It simply leaves other songs in the dust. Spine-tingling moment: The intro, the verse, the chorus, the middle break, the end.

Life's Rich Pageant

Presto. My own blog. How about that?

Balancer of life. Didn't know what to describe myself in the profile. Then this popped into my mind.

It's pretty accurate. I don't think life is lived to the fullest if one traps himself in a certain mood, belief, lifestyle, tradition, rule, law, genre....

I've tried the best part of my adult life not to be limited. To allow myself to move in between and embrace extremes, then find the best balance of living a complete life. Sometimes I can, sometimes I cannot. But I'm content.

It's not difficult. Only your mind can restrict. Try to embrace all of these:

the important and the mundane
the sacred and the profane
the pragmatic and the romantic
the acoustic and the electric
the thrifty and the indulgent
the cautious and the reckless
the sedate and the aggression
the moody and the cheery
the nihilism and the optimism
the individual and the collective
the artistic and the commercial
the dumb and the smart

Maybe you can find some balance too. Oh well, whatever, nevermind...