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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My favorite albums: Neon Ballroom

1999.
What a year for me it was for me. I turned 18 that year, and as a birthday present, My Uncle Dale(yeah I know, please no jokes) took me back with him to his way home near Washington, DC. to spend a week there.

Oh the sights, the sounds, the bums!:)

And on the ride back home on a Greyhound, I listened to only two albums, back to back; Blur's "13", and Silverchair's "Neon Ballroom."

Neon Ballroom's Silverchair's third album, following Frogstomp and Freak Show, and what a album it is!

Coming in at a total of 12 heavy, blistering tracks, Neon not only follows the punk and grunge influences and beats of the previous two, but takes those influences to the next level. For my money, outside of the Best Of....album, Neon is Silverchair's most heaviest, punk/grunge-ish album to date. Believe me when I say that just about every track is absolutely dripping with piss and vinegar!

Starting off with "Emotion Sickness", you get the feeling the band at the time, and specifically lead singer Daniel Johns, had an agenda, and that agenda was pointing out and criticizing the ruling class/powers that be about their abuse of power and people. All the songs on this track seem to have a message to them, and Emotion Sickness is just the starting point. I love how the group includes an orchestra with most of the songs, especially first seen here.

"Anthem for the year 2000" is not only classic Silverchair material from this period, but as the title says, is an anthem for the disaffected youth of that time, Johns and the group included.

Here's a sample of some of the lyrics:
"We are the youth 
We'll take your fascism away 
We are the youth 
Apologize for another day 
We are the youth 
And politicians are so sure 
We are the youth 
And we are knocking on death's door 
Never knew we were living in a world 
With a mind that could be so sure 
Never knew we were living in a world 
With a mind that could be so small 
Never knew we were living in a world 
And the world is an open court 
Maybe we don't want to live in a world 
Where innocence is so short 
We'll make it up to you 
In the year 2000 with... "

Whew!

And the hits keep coming with "Ana's Song(Open Fire)"

This is one of those songs that is super personal to Johns, as it's about his own struggle with Anorexia, and the toll a disease like that takes on one's physical and mental health. It's a beautiful song, especially with that heavy orchestral sound.

And yeah, a guy with Anorexia, I know, I know:)

"Spawn Again" seems to be primarily devoted to calling out the Meat Industry for its fucked up and inhumane practices, with an angry, punk-driven furor.

Did I mention Johns is a Vegan? Well you know now, and if not, this song really hammers that fact home as well. 

I love the part at the end, where it just looks like he's so fed up and pissed off he breaks a TV or something.
And hey, I feel him on his views towards the Meat Industry. Not so much on the Vegan front, because I'm a very proud carnivore, but as far as the mistreatment of livestock, and all the fucking chemicals they pump the meat that we eat with, well, while it doesn't stop me from chomping down on a tasty Whopper or Double Cheeseburger, I do know my risk for Diabetes and other health-related illnesses go up every time I eat one of these tasty fuckers. 

Oh well, whatta' gonna' do right?

"Miss you love", "Satin Sheets", and "Paint Pastel Princess" are all fine songs, though they do tend to all sound the same. That's not so much a diss, as it is an observation.

I do like songs like "Do you feel the same", "Point of view", and "Black tangled heart", even though I'm personally convinced they pretty much helped influence bands like "My chemical romance, Dashboard Confessions, and Chevelle to even pick up an instrument and sing there little emo songs. Hey to each his own, but like the lead singer from Salvia said, "I'm tired of all the bitching and crying on everyone's cd."

 I do like "Dearest Helpless" though. Very, very good song.

And finally the last track on the album, is "Steam will rise."

Now don't ask me why specifically I really dig this song, but I do. After an entire album of railing against corrupt politicians, governments, industry leaders, and diseases, the band takes a well-deserved breather/rest, and softens things down a bit.

Here's the lyrics:
"Contain yourself 
I will compress 
What I am to 
Replace yourself 
With what you have 
Your substitute 
Only wanted a piece of myself 
Steam will rise 
Esteem will rise 
Steam will rise 
Esteem will rise 

Refrain, confess 
Contain, repress 
Pretend I'm dead 
Abuse myself 
Confuse myself 
I won't be led 

Only wanted a piece of myself 
Only wanted a piece of myself 
Only wanted a piece of myself 
Steam will rise 
Esteem will rise 
Steam will rise 
Esteem will rise"

How do you pull off being quietly intense? Just like that it seems. Damn, what a song huh?

As popular as Neon Ballroom is, Johns himself really digs it, going so far as to consider it Silverchair's first, true album.
Here's his explanation for that:
"To me, I honestly feel like our first record was Neon Ballroom. I've never felt any different. I don't feel like our first two albums were Silverchair: that's our teenage high school band. I don't like them at all. I listen to them and go, 'That's cute', especially the first one, because Frogstomp we were 14. But the second one we're like 16, I'm like 'You're getting older. You're running out of chances'"

I guess he has a point there, but that doesn't the first two albums were utterly shit or anything. Hey, as a singer or group, you have to start somewhere, and grow over time, But yeah, Neon is a hell of album, and they should all be proud of it.

Tomorrow, a fresh new skit for ya' kiddies, so see you all then:)

2 comments:

Dan said...

Another Aussie rock act! you must be quarter australian by now at least! when you're 50/50 we'll start you on kiwi rock and you'll see where real genius lives ;-)

Silverchair were great, really one of those bands that even non rock fans could agree on, and hey, what's better than that? :-)

Dale Bagwell said...

@Dan, Ha ha! Well I can proudly say I was into Silverchair way before I was attempting to apply for honorary Australian citizen-ship.

So what would get me that 50%?

I've used Divinyls on here, and I like the Midnight Oil's "Bed's are burning" song, so will that do it?

Oh, and I've watched both Crocodile Dundee movies multiple times, so by that logic, I'm a cinch for halfsies right?:)