Cirice – Ghost B.C.

Wednesday’s are a group workout for my department. We all head downstairs at lunchtime, make our way to a private room, and blare music of our own selection, while a trainer sends us through various exercise stations for an hour.

One of the (many) benefits of this is that we get to choose our own music.

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Last week, my wonderful co-worker Lexi’s selection came on, and immediately, my ears perked up.

“Who is this,” I panted in between sloppy yoga-ball leg curls. “GHOST,” she panted back.

And that was that.

The next day, I searched Spotify and listened to all of Meliora, blasting through “Spirit” and “From the Pinnacle to the Pit.” By Friday, I braved the record store, only to have to wait for hipster shit-bags to get out of the “G” section, so I could grab Meliora and scramble out of the store.

I have a thing for bands who’s sound doesn’t match their appearance, and the minute I looked up Ghost B.C., I almost laughed out loud. Their lead singer’s dressed up as an Antichrist pope, with full skull makeup and mismatched contacts. He goes by Papa Emeritus.

Each of the band members dresses as a different Nameless Ghoul. In interviews, typically one of the Ghouls represents the entire band, or Papa Emeritus appears in (rather obvious) prosthetics and makeup to appear as an old Italian man, who is a “ladies man.” According to this faux-leader, there have been three Emeritus’, and the band intends to continue cycling them out. If you pay attention, (and don’t buy their schtick) you’ll realize it’s all been the same singer, just with different appearances. Odd, but intriguing. I think that sums up the band…

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The death look doesn’t match their smooth sound. Vocals are intelligible, unlike many other metal artists. Riffs are clean. There’s nothing unintentional about their aesthetic. Even Dave Grohl (rock’s resident nice guy) dressed in Nameless Ghoul garb and took the stage with them secretly. The music community gets it.

It’s funny, the fear they’ve managed to shake up for their Satanic lyrics and sound. They’ve admitted that their appearance and display is an act. They’re a “horror band” (much like Alice Cooper) but the public does not see it that way. U.S. companies refused to print their album artwork or create copies of Infestissumam because of the sexually explicit artwork.

During recording of Infestissumam, the band apparently had to record their choir sections in Los Angeles, because Nashville choirs were so offended by their Satanic lyrics that they wouldn’t take part.

ANYWAY. Despite all of this odd background, “Cirice” has been nominated for Best Metal Performance for the 2016 Grammy’s. In typical Ghost style, they campaigned in Billboard magazine for attention leading up to the awards.

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“Cirice” is haunting and melodic, and Ghost is entirely aware of that. They’ve openly admitted in interviews that they realized that it was an appealing song, and one that could really sum up the sound of Meliora.

The video is a fantastic representation of the Ghost dynamic and appearance. In it, a child takes to the stage during a school talent show, and apparently, calls upon Satan to liven things up a bit. The school staff, panicking, unplug the sound system, leaving the children on stage, bowing for their performance. It’s a wonderful pairing with the song, and perfectly sums up the public reaction to this intimidating (and fascinating) band.

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O Mother – Son Little

Can I love the world and hate how it makes me feel?

I truly don’t know how to accurately describe the beauty this song conveys both in lyrics and visuals. It’s so chill, but filled with so much emotion. As a black man in America, Son Little (Aaron Livingston) is speaking directly to the issues that are constantly swirling and striking.

Hearing what happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Eric Garner in New York, Little felt compelled to write a song speaking to the pain he feels at the hands of others.

He took inspiration from Marvin Gaye’s song, “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler),” according to The New Yorker, and extended the conversation through to a more intimate approach.

The video is mixed with stunning images of caged wolves and a sleeping Son Little. The song is a beautiful blend of vintage soul and a modern, lamenting consciousness.

Better known for his song, “The River,” Son Little is in the midst of his first headlining tour, hitting cities and villes such as Boston, Nashville and Chicago.  Little may still be unfamiliar for many listeners, but he’s established himself at festivals like SXSW and with artists like The Roots.

Having lived in Los Angeles, New York and most recently, Philadelphia, Little is a man filled with awareness of the world around him, and he has a talent for presenting that to the audience in a way that’s truthful, but still palatable.

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S.O.B. – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

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That’s pretty much the reaction I had when I heard this song initially.

As mentioned before, I have a few amazing friends with good taste. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I leech off of them from time to time. Katie Krueger is my most visited victim in this audio-assault. Her taste is outstanding.

Rateliff and Co. are an incredibly refreshing old blues/Chicago sound that WILL remind you of the Blues Brothers. And that’s intentional – after all, Stax is in the picture with this group.

Their first album was released this year, and I have a feeling that they’re going to creep into the music scene like a slow-acting poison. They’ll getcha when you least expect it.

Many fans are coming from Jimmy Fallon, and I can appreciate that. It’s always refreshing to hear good music on television.

Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Rateliff's Twitter account, @NRateliff.

Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Rateliff’s Twitter account, @NRateliff.

Initially, I swore this song was “Little Bitty Pretty One,” and I had to rewind a few times to figure out if they were sampling the “hums,” or actually humming them.

In the past, Rateliff released two albums of singer-songwriter material that’s far more subdued than his work with The Night Sweats. This album is where is talent really shines.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Rateliff admitted that some might feel his latest effort is “just more stupid blue-eyed soul.” But the fact that Rateliff is finally being more true to himself is really shining through. The whole album is immensely fun to listen to, and it’s quite the treat to hear such Stax-influenced music being released.

So, go ahead and listen to “S.O.B.” Or the whole album. And I dare you not to dance like Jake and Elwood.

Don’t Mess With Me – Brody Dalle

One my my high school crushes was Brody Dalle. I started listening to The Distillers after I became heavily interested in Rancid and Hellcat Records. (I was obsessed with almost everything that label produced.) I loved everything about Brody. To me, she was the epitome of female badassery. She had an unmatched swagger and voice, all while still being completely and utterly stunning and unapologetic about being a woman. I thought that was amazing.

Recently, Brandon asked me if I had heard of Brody, and my interest piqued immediately. “Of course I have! Why?”

He loaded YouTube on our PS3 and played this video.

I had no clue that she’d released Diploid Love, but he and I have been listening to it on repeat since Friday. (We picked it up at Shake It on our date night.)

Especially now that she’s blonde, I’m sure the comparisons to Courtney Love are pouring in. But I prefer Brody by a landslide.

When I listened to her while she was in The Distillers, she had jet black hair and looked undead, except for her blood-red lips. As it turns out, when she and Tim Armstrong split (the lead singer of Rancid, and owner of Hellcat) her musical career took a major hit.

According to an article published by The Guardian in April 2014, “It took her three years to leave Armstrong, and when she did, the aftermath was brutal. His celebrity friends waged a public campaign against her, criticising Dalle in the press, and reportedly threatening the male Distillers and blacklisting anyone associated with the band. “We lost every fucking body. Me and my guys were left there standing alone, holding each other.””

In addition to that, Dalle was battling with a meth addiction, which as many know, is something that people rarely bounce back from. The Distillers last album, Coral Fang, produced some mainstream hits, but it wasn’t enough to save the crumbling band and lead singer.

Luckily, Dalle moved forward and married Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and had children Camille & Orrin, who she credits for her continued sobriety.

Diploid Love has a lot of gems that are worth a listen, but my favorite so far is Don’t Mess With Me.

While the beat and progressions Dalle uses are enough to draw in a casual listener, I can’t help but appreciate her lyrics, as well. Her entire album speaks to overcoming battles – both inward and outward – and Dalle has clearly won all of the ones she’s been faced with.

You’re the reason I can stay
And fight until the death