‘Hesitant Alien’ Initial Review

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I am a huge My Chemical Romance fan. I enjoy all of their albums, (except for maybe their VERY first one, under Eyeball Records), even the one that changed their sound dramatically. It still worked. It was still My Chemical Romance.

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is a beautifully depressing album. Borderline concept album, it starts strong, and has a heavy finish.
4 out of 5 stars.

The Black Parade took everything that was a little wrong with Three Cheers, and fixes it for the better. This time it is a concept album, following a cancer patient as his life flashes through his eyes before death. Even the songs I used to skip are songs I now love. Great album through and through.
5 out of 5 stars.

Danger Days; The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys was a step in an entirely new direction. So it was fresh, but it contained some of same hardcore elements from the previous albums, leaving out the sort of Gothic vibe from before. Great album, great lyrics, great back-story… like The Black Parade, any songs I used to skip (and there was only one) are now integral parts of the Danger Days experience.
5 out of 5 stars.

Conventional Weapons was a complication of previously unreleased music from between the release of Black Parade and Danger Days. Great music that combines the vibes of both of those albums, put together in a way that fits and doesn’t feel choppy at all.
4 and a half out of 5 stars.

My Chemical Romance broke up in 2013, much to the sadness of myself, and many others. I bought their compilation album that had another previously unreleased track on it, ‘Fake Your Death’, that, I won’t lie, made me cry. Even now, thinking of it, my eyes get wet.
So MCR is a touchy subject for me. They are probably closer to my heart than Fall Out Boy, so I find it hard to say anything bad about any of the members or albums.

So when I heard Gerard Way, the lead singer, was going solo and was releasing his own album, titled ‘Hesitant Alien’, I got excited. More music from the same voice as MCR, I thought;

“Maybe if I close my eyes it’ll sound like My Chemical Romance’s fifth album.”

I carried this sediment around with me, waiting for the release. Gerard Way released the full album for streaming a couple of weeks ago, and the physical release came out today.

This is a review, song by song, as I listened to the album all the way through in-depth, for the first time. This is an initial review, because with multiple listens, my opinions can change drastically.
And this is MY personal opinion… as a long-term fan of MCR. Unlike some people, I wasn’t going to be belligerent and not listen to the album just because I miss My Chemical Romance. In fact, quite the opposite.
So let’s take a look, track by track, at Gerard Way’s ‘Hesitant Alien’.

1. Bureau

This is a strange beginning to the album. Weird beat, very distorted sounding. There was probably some ‘artsy’ reason for doing this, but it is downright unpleasant to listen too.
1 out of 5 stars, completely.

2. Action Cat

This song is great. Very fresh sounding, not much like MCR at all. It is obvious that Way is eager to shake off the sounds of MCR, and it mostly succeeds here. Although to fine tuned listeners, I could have possibly seen this being on MCR’s swan song album, Conventional Weapons.
4 out of 5 stars.

3. No Shows

Way’s vocals are VERY under powering here. Even more so then the previous tracks. And when you do hear his voice, the lyrics are rather slurred and jumbled. Now he has always been somewhat of a slurred singer, but his vocals were at least always upfront and obviously there, even if it was a bit hard to understand. But the further we go here, the more it becomes incomprehensible. Otherwise, the beat, sounds, and instruments are delightful.
3 out of 5 stars.

4. Brother

LOVE the intro. So far, the intros on this album have been good, always giving you high hopes for the rest of the song. Way’s vocal’s have cleared up a LOT. Very nice beat in the background, pleasant and light. For once, Way’s great vocal’s are actually coming through a bit.

A fourth way through the song, vocals get distorted a bit again, but I suspect it was the chorus, and it clears up. I enjoyed it though.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

5. Millions

Good guitar intro… drums follow soon after… easy to tap your foot too. Leads into vocals decently, but they are STILL underwhelming. About half-way through this album, I hope this doesn’t become a common theme. I enjoy Way’s voice, but the instruments are VERY overpowering. When he was with MCR, his vocals were very loud, brash, sometimes harsh. And although he was known to slur, you could easily hear him at least.
Here, the vocals fade into the background. Shame, too. I heard that his brother, Mikey Way, former bassist for MCR, did background vocals but I couldn’t distinguish them.
Overall, it’s nice, but a bit plain.
3 out of 5 stars.

6. Zero Zero

Once again, the intro is great! Drums are heavily featured, and the vocals are still incomprehensible, except for the occasional ‘Zero Zero’ making its way through. You know what, from now on, unless I say otherwise just assume the vocals are lacking.
There seems to be an echo effect going on, and I’m not liking that.
More than half-way through the song, with the drums dominating and the vocals barely on the back burner, it’s an okay albeit disappointing track.
2 out of 5 stars.

7. Juarez

Loving how the guitar and drums are working together. It seems like you can count on the intro being good just as much as you can count on the vocals lacking.
Although, the vocals do sound clearer, but fuzzy. Way may have thought the effect added something, but for God’s sake, I want to actually hear HIM and what the vocals are TRYING to say instead of some sound effect.
It gets nearly terrible near the end. Although, I can sense that perhaps the chorus MIGHT have been catchy if you could actually understand him.
2 out of 5 stars.

8. Drugstore Perfume

Intro is… interesting. A bit different, but it sounds promising. I hear a little acoustic guitar going on, and the vocals are still fuzzy but a little more upfront. I get a sort of psychedelic vibe from this.
It sounds pretty smooth, and the instrumentals are a lot more light than the other tracks.
This is the longest track on the album, at four minutes and forty-nine seconds, and it shows. It goes on a bit long, but maybe if he cut off the extra, say, forty seconds this would have been a bit better.
Once again, sounds like it would be catchy if I could understand him.
3 out of 5 stars.

9. Get the Gang Together

The previous song leads into this, and once again, nice intro a some electric sounds pulled in.
Way sounds… among everything else, almost bored. I don’t know what causes it to sound that way, so I won’t comment.
I do like the sound and beat of it, and I’m enjoying the background vocals.
This song feels like it was pieced together. It’s just weird.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

10. How’s It Going To Be

First of the last two songs. As I type this, I am still on the previous song, but I have high hopes for these final two.
Starts with a drum beat and a nice rhythm.

Ooooh! This is nice! Different vibe, and I’m enjoying how the drums are the main source of beat here.
Way does sound a little like he’s speaking through a robot voice changer, but I still enjoy everything else.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

11. Maya the Psychic

Final song. I’m conflicted on whether to be relieved or disappointed here, but here we go.
Good first impressions, like always. Just waiting for the song to kick fully into gear.
I am enjoying the use of the tambourine.
Eh… fades into mediocrity soon. Vocals ARE a bit cleaner through a good portion of the song, although it doesn’t help much now.
It is lacking the sort of fanfare I usually expect a finale to have, it just sounds like they could have easily put this song in the middle and there’d be no difference.
Still enjoying the tambourine.
It DOES come together nicely at the end… and it has a good finish. Sounds more like a final song at the very end.
I still wish the vocals were clearer.
3 out of 5 stars.

Alright. There is Hesitant Alien.
From what I read, Way was going for a sort of Britpop feel. I am not a connoisseur of Britpop so I cannot comment on that, or how it affects the album.
All I can do here… is offer the opinion of a hardcore MCR fan checking out Gerard Way’s solo album. So this does have an MCR fan perspective, whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you.

First things first, if you casually enjoyed MCR, or were just into their big hits, this is NOT for you. Unless you are a fan of the aforementioned Britpop, do not think you are getting another My Chemical Romance album.
And for hardcore fans like me… as I said before, you cannot go into this with an MCR mentality. This is not My Chemical Romance, it doesn’t sound like My Chemical Romance. Gerard Way has shed the MCR sound, and whether successfully or not is up to you.
I do think hardcore fans of My Chemical Romance should go and give Gerard Way some support, and buy the album and take a listen. He’s delved into unfamiliar territory, and you have to give him props for even trying. And with our support, hopefully he can make the needed improvements, (like a better showcase of his VOICE), for his next album.

This isn’t an album you are going to find on the radio, I can almost guarantee that. So if you’re into that hipster mentality, go and eat your heart out.
This album is DEFINITELY worth the around thirty-five minutes of your time. Even if you just listen to it on Soundcloud, or Spotify, turn it on and give it a gander. It’s different, and you SHOULD try it. Even if it is just for the experience.

But overall…
here’s the final score.
This album would have been rated higher, if Way’s brilliant vocals were up front on the stage.
And this album would have been rated lower if the sounds, beats, and instrumentals weren’t so good.

Gerard Way’s first solo album, Hesitant Alien, gets a 3 out of 5 stars. It is a decent album, and certainly a different experience.
Any MCR fans should take a listen, and go buy the album to support Gerard in his first solo endeavor. You can find it on Amazon and iTunes.

  • And until next time… that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 11:17 AM

The Evolution of a Band’s Sound

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Let’s take two great bands. Different bands that hold different places in my heart, but nevertheless great bands. These two bands are Fall Out Boy… and Black Veil Brides. Now, I know that there is a lot of negative thoughts toward these bands – angsty, melodramatic, only good for teenage girls… I might be able to agree with the first two, but I’d mean it in a good context.
I have had the pleasure of growing up with Fall Out Boy. When most people call them these things, they’re usually thinking of their first two albums, Take This To Your Grave, and Under the Cork Tree. Those were their garage sounding, angst to the limit albums.
I can understand where the opinions might differ on those albums. When I first heard them, I was very young… I was just strolling down puberty lane, and to me, it sounded very hardcore. I was entering my teenage “rebellious” phase, so stuff like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance fueled my “emo” years. I had the hair and the dark clothes to match, so Fall Out Boy fit like a glove.

But their grunge-like first two albums weren’t the ones I heard first… no, my first introduction was when “Thanks for the Memories”, one of the lead singles off of their third album, Infinity on High, was coming out.
So naturally, I listened to Infinity on High before the first two, and so I was even younger. This album was NOT grunge-like, not “emo” in anyway, (except for maybe their outfits and styles… Pete Wentz in particular), but there was still that young angst, but it came in a much cleaner package. The brash outspoken lyrics and vocals were exchanged for clever metaphors and analogies and it didn’t sound nearly as rough. In fact, they even had an entire song based around their change and telling people to accept it! (At least, that’s what I got out of it).

I listened again and again, and when I heard they had other albums I pounced on them, like I said before, further fueling my punk phase.

Their albums came out every few years. And like normal people do, and like the members of the band do, their sound changed even further.

But by the time their fourth album came out, I stopped listening to them. I don’t remember why, or what for, but I did. I still listened to their older stuff quite a bit, and as I aged I even grew to understand and enjoy Infinity on High and all of its metaphorical nuances a bit more. But I didn’t keep up with them anymore, and that’s when I began listening to Panic! At The Disco, more or less FOB’s brother band, but that’s another story.

After enjoying Panic!’s discography and awaiting their third album, I learned about Fall Out Boy’s fourth album that didn’t get a lot of attention, wasn’t as well recieved, and I hadn’t heard a thing about; Folie a Deux.

French for ‘The Madness of Two’ this album had been lost to my view for over three years. When I began listening to it, I had learned that Fall Out Boy had gone on ‘hiatus’… but most of the fans took that as a break up.
As I listened to this album, I came to realize that this was the missing step in their evolution… and it was BRILLIANT.

Take the growth from the last album, and let it evolve again. Both albums had the same themes, for the most part, and lots of fans consider to be a sequel to Infinity on High. But here, it’s taken to the next level. Any angst that was left from the previous album? Gone. Any roughness around the edges? For the most part, gone, with a little left for good measure. Did Pete Wentz try to do one of those screams? No. Thank god, that was gone.

This was a great album. Still Fall Out Boy, enough of a transition to lead us into the changes, and everything that was changed had done it beautifully.

Fast forward to early 2013.
News had been swirling around of a reunion. Little ‘leaks’, misplaced tweets, rumors were roaring that FOB was coming back.

Cue February 4th. There I am, on Facebook and Youtube… and in my suggestions a little video pops up.

My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.

My heart raced. Fall Out Boy had released a new single… the rumors were true! And to top it all off… the title of the song was the same kind of angsty, long as all get out title that we had grown accustomed too from Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco.

A return to roots, perhaps?

Then I listened. And I was shocked. Scared. And of course, a little pumped up.

My beloved Fall Out Boy… had gone hip-hop.
Rap.
Mainstream. (I swear I’m not a hipster, don’t hate me)

For goodness sake, 2-Chainz was in it!
And… they broke the first rule of their own music. Never mention the title of the song in the song itself.

Now, they broke that rule before, but it made SENSE before. ‘Thanks for the memories’ and ‘I don’t care’ being lead examples, but when they started singing the title… I didn’t have a clue what it meant. The subtitle, ‘Light ’em up’, fit a lot better, and a ton of non-fans would know the song by that.

I felt a little betrayed, but still… a little ecstatic. I was ready for the album to see what would happen.

On the days heading to the release date, another couple singles were released. I felt about the same for all of them, and still went forward with my excitement.

Then, one day I was doing my daily browsing, I came across a post by Fall Out Boy on Facebook.
They had released the entire album… in full, for listening on their website a little bit before the physical release.
My heart skipped, I jumped, and I listened through those forty minutes with anticipation.

This isn’t a review on that album, so I’ll keep it short; I was disappointed. I remember thinking to myself the entire way through,

“Yeah, it’s okay”

as if trying to justify how I felt. I mean, this wasn’t what I expected from FOB. They had Courtney Love, the frickin’ queen of punk, and they couldn’t make the music a bit more hardcore? This didn’t feel like Fall Out Boy, this felt like Generic 2013 Radio Band #27.

As time went on… I grew to enjoy it. A lot, actually. A lot of the music is very good to get pumped up with, to get excited… I frequently use the album on jobs. The first track sounds like a call to arms, (which is basically what the music video shows it as), and is very good to get the blood flowing.

I just think that being with them for so long, I didn’t want to understand or deal with the sudden change. The entire band is in their thirties, at least two of them are married, and at least one of them has children. I can’t expect them to sing about dudes stealing their girlfriends, and homecoming dance anymore, can I?

So I’ve learned to accept their evolution, even if it went in a direction I didn’t necessarily enjoy at first.

I’ve listened to all of their albums since then, multiple times, enjoying all of their merits and seeing how they fit together.
Then, early September, the same old cycle came around.

New song.
My excitement.
Release of said song.
My surprised reaction.

This song is called ‘Centuries’. You can find it on Youtube, iTunes and Spotify. Next week, I’ll have a review on the song posted that will sort of conclude my thoughts on this post.

Now… that’s Fall Out Boy, but what about Black Veil Brides?

This band I started listening to a little more recently. The kind of kids I hung out with in Middle and High school were these kind of… faux hardcore kids. Bands like Sleeping with Sirens, Asking Alexandria… the genre of ‘screamo’, generally synonymous with ‘crap’.
There is nothing wrong with an angry roar, or a soulful growl in your music… but when the entire song is in this guttural, beast-like scream? It’s terrible. What’s even worse is when someone tries to sing a love song like this.

Black Veil Brides, at first glance, seemed like another one of those crap-mo bands my friends tried to get me to listen too. The band dressed like a Motley Crue/Kiss lovechild, and most of it was that loud ‘fauxcore’ that I knew all too well. But I decided to give the first album a try all the way through, and boy am I glad I did.
About halfway through, my ears were graced with ‘The Mortician’s Daughter’, a gorgeous, well flowing love song with acoustic guitar and the lead singer’s admittedly talented vocals.
Where the hell was this?! This was brilliant! And unlike a lot of other bands of their type, the lead singer actually had talent.

After that, the album went back to screamo for most of the album. I did enjoy a nice rock song entitled ‘Caroline’, but those two songs were really what made Black Veil Bride’s first album, We Stitch These Wounds.

The second album was more of the same. Nothing great there.

Then came the third album.
Oh my god, my wish came true.
An honest to goodness rock album.
THIS was an evolution!

Wretched and Divine, despite having a rather melodramatic title, was an excellent rock album for 2013. This was more rock then any modern band had been able to achieve for awhile without being a subgenre.
This is what growing up, this is what evolution was all about. And this was without a doubt the best evolution for a band’s sound in the last ten years. Maybe fifteen.

I was pumped up and ready for their next album. I didn’t think it could get any better for a former screamo band. Worst case scenario is that they go backwards… best case is repeat in style and form.
Hoo, was I wrong.

Black Veil Brides has released two singles off of their fourth, self titled album. Entitled ‘Heart of Fire’ and ‘Faithless’ respectively. You can listen to these on Youtube, Spotify, and also buy them on iTunes. My final impressions and reviews of these two songs will come next week along with the Fall Out Boy review.

Well… in short, at guess the heart of this post is the point that bands and their members and their sound, they change and grow with us. We can choose to accept these new directions if the band means that much to us, we can roll with the punches… or we can choose to push them aside in favor for the older materiel, and be stuck in the past.  It’s our choice.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 3:25 AM

One step forward… one month later. *Update*

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For a couple months, I have been completely inactive. No meaningful posts, no updates, no anything. This isn’t just to do with my blog, though… this has to do with my entire life, almost.
About two posts ago, I mentioned that I would be gone for a week. I went, I came back, but when I arrived home, I returned an apathetic, lazy shell of my former self. No longer did I write blog posts once every couple of days… no longer did I write twenty or more pages of my stories, no longer did I adhere to my exercise and diet regimen that I was so proud of. I got nothing done, and I went from ambitious to dead-beat in no time.

Why? I have no clue. After coming back from my trip, I should have felt rejuvenated and ready to continue the year. Instead, I got a slap in the face, a shove to the floor, and I just got out of it.
I have slowly been gaining momentum again… reiterating the word slowly. I am slowly beginning to remember to count calories. My interest in writing is peaking again, and here I am taking the time to write a post. Writing these blog posts used to be such a joy, so much to the fact that I was afraid of writing to many too quickly. That revealed itself to not be the case, but I am picking up the pieces that I left and am putting things back together.

So, update. Here’s what is going on. The Next Day is going to be put on hiatus for now, possibly until late next year. I have not been as active in my writing as I needed to be, so I am surely behind. So that is going to take a seat on the back burner.

The New Phantasm is still going to be released as planned… May of next year, if everything goes the way I hope. More information will come on that the further I get into it.

Lastly, this blog. I am going to ease myself back into the waters. I will be posting scheduled once a week, either on Sunday or Monday. Some weeks I might have an extra post on Wednesday, or something like that if time allows, but this blog is not going under.

Just wanted to let anyone and everyone know what’s going on, and I’ll see you guys in a week.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 1:42 PM