Review 2: Filter

Posted on July 26, 2011

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Method of choosing: Opened folder, tossed a piece of tissue up and ran mouse in circles until it hit the floor.

Albums available: Short Bus, Title of Record

Hypothesis:

This must be rock, right? College rock. Somehow that’s always what I associate with college rock-ish/ alternative bands – Bush, Soundgarden, ermm. Interpol? Ok, I have absolutely no evidence to back up my statement, but I hope you know what I mean…ish.

Their album titles predict T-shirts, good-looking American frontman, short hair on everyone except for the bass guitarist and a straight-cut rock-out style. Very Gap-friendly but far enough from boy band cemetery. Short Bus has songs titled “Hey man nice shot” (surely college basketball league), “Under”, “Spent”, “It’s Over”, “Take Another”, “So Cool”, all of which seem like they could be elaborated upon on Texts From Last Night. Title of Record warns of keg stands and dope-smoking casualties who did not manage to shrug off the college grime to slip into waspy business shirts after graduation – “It’s Gonna Kill Me”, “Skinny” (that’s unemployment, I’m guessing) and, ominously, “Cancer”. Perhaps of moral values, societal standards, or simply a family member. Who knows. But this album does seem like it could be interestingly switched up – “Captain Bligh” and “Miss Blue” hints of some campy.

So, let’s see.

Actual music:

Uh-oh. Very hard-hitting. The sweat from the flipping long unwashed hair is hitting me in the face already. Sound over words – lyrics are clipped and angsty? “Get yourself a nice cold beer, drink yourself awake?” (Away?) “You’re celebrating nothing, you feel a-ok.” Songs alternate intra-song between ragey shrieks and semi-melodious rock singing. “This girl is trying to kill me.” (Woah, what did you do to her?) I can’t place what they would even look like. They seem to be serious about their music, which is a pity because their sound is (so far!) so generic and boring. “Take a Picture” – omg! I’ve heard this song before! It was on the radio! Wow, it’s really catchy… especially relative to the rest of the album (what I’ve heard so far anyways) why must everything be so unmelodious? Why must the background music sound so similar no matter what the song? How can this band write “Take a Picture” and then lapse into oatmeal rock in the other songs? Well, one other track that stood out was “Cancer”, which is lovely, threatening, mysterious. Whispers that are well complemented with heavy drum beats. And it actually sounds sincere. …But it refuses to end. And has gone into bizarre anthemic refrains about “my children” and “what seems important won’t last forever”. Sigh.

Post-post-listen reflection (what they really sound and look like):

No fair! I’ve actually heard them before. The whole I-knew-they-were-rock! thing actually did come from somewhere in my consciousness.

Anyway, here’s what they look like:

take the black!

Was I right or was I right? On the T-shirt, American good looks, short haired frontman? I swear I didn’t pick and choose this image – it was a random one I got from google images. But yes, the bassist doesn’t have long hair. Still! Score. Regarding their pedigree, though, I think I have a non-score. Original founder Richard Patrick played with Nine Inch Nails and “Hey Man Nice Shot” is allegedly inspired both by Budd Dwyer’s and Kurt Cobain’s deaths. That takes shameless balls. So – hey, hmm. Still. They were formed in 1993, and still have a quite the rabid fanbase. Well, the comment field in Youtube tells me so.

Adorable tidbit: “Take A Picture” was inspired by Richard Patrick running around naked on a plane (probably scaring the shit out of the other passengers – oh wait, they probs had a private section; OK, carry on). He called it “the happiest time in my life”. Well played, Richard. He also said it was his favourite song. You and me have that in common, Richard. The (actually rather fun) interview here.

Anyway, Shortbus was released in 1995 and Title of Record in 1999 so perhaps I was a little unreasonable about what I said about their sound. Their sound (looking back on 90s rock) is very much of their time. Still, I am looking for the transcendental, and I’m hoping time should be one of those factors that music isn’t framed by. Filter’s latest albums are intriguingly named: Anthems for the Damned and The Trouble with Angels. It appeals greatly to my sense of melodrama. Who hasn’t had trouble with those damned cherubs? I’d love to check them out. (Makes quickly-forgotten mental note to download the album from mediafire.) Trouble debuted in Billboard’s Top 200, which should mean something, but probably just means that many people like rock and I don’t really. Ah wells.

So apparently the official mv for “Take A Picture” is un-embeddable, but I quite like the little improvisations made in this slightly shortened version. The acoustics aren’t the best, though. And Richard looked a little stiff.

Conclusion:

Will I listen to this again, and if so, under what circumstances?/ Will put on music player? Probably… No. There’s really no hook in it for me.

taken in 2010 - still lookin awesome in black

Posted in: Filter, Review