Friday, November 24, 2017

Things I Miss - Fugees

Now this may seem a little obscure for the genre and since I have never made a blog post about a hip-hop group I miss.

I was sifting through an old article from MTV, ranking some of the greatest hip-hop acts of all time.  There were so many groups to name that could have all been evenly worthy of taking top spot(s).  From Wu-Tang to Outkast.  Public Enemy, Salt 'N Pepa, and of course A Tribe Called West.  However, it was when I hit The Fugees did I decide to turn on the Spotify and start streaming some of that amazing 90's hip-hop.

While the group only lasted for two full albums, their impact on the music industry as a whole echoes even today.  If you don't believe me, simply type their name in a YouTube search bar, and read the comments of any video.  Scrolling through them, one phrase kept coming up again and again.  The words "real music" was apparent through both comments and many reviews of either Blunted on Reality, or the multi-platinum The Score.

"We'll show you how the refugees do."

I remember being introduced to "Fu-Gee-La", "Ready or Not", and "Killing Me Softly" thanks to the golden era of Much Music/MTV, and with the help of some older cousins (much love Jennifer).  With becoming one of the biggest albums of 1996, if not the one of the biggest hip-hop albums of the decade, this was one of the groups who reached many household across the world.  It was one of my earliest introductions to hip-hop as a young kid.  While the ability to understand concepts of their lyrics at the time, the music had great hooks, amazing vocals, and seemed to be a widely accepted group.

Taking home 2 Grammy Awards in 1997 (Best Rap Album, Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group), The Score definitely set themselves among some of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time.

"Me without a mic is like a beat without a snare."

With Wyclef Jean and Lauren Hill's careers taking off quite well in the late 90's, it was a shame to see them call it quits in 1997.  Thankfully, the world would get another chance to see them in 2004 when they performed together on Dave Chapelle's Block Party, the BET Awards in 2005, and a handful of charity events.

While it doesn't seem likely that the group is soon to reunite and tour again, one can only hope that the trio can set aside any differences, and realize the inspiration they have given both future hip-hop artists, but the global community as a whole.  The group spoke of subjects such as refugees, fame, greed, hard times, good times, and many other areas that people can relate to.

Here's to the hope that we may see the group come together, or have the world produce something of equal ferocity, and natural poetry.

"Of course, Lauryn Hill was one of a trio, aided and abetted by the patois-spitting Wyclef Jean and the bullish Pras. Each of them brought some serious bars to the table, and the dynamic between still gives The Score an elastic unpredictability that wouldn't have worked if it was any of the rappers' solo projects. But Lauryn Hill runs an absolute lyrical clinic on the album, dropping at a time when hip-hop needed it the most." -Tom Barnes,

Monday, October 23, 2017

Full Album Stream: Volumes - Different Animals

So one of the new(er) sections I created was "Full Album Streams".  Not only did this gave folks something to listen to when they are cruising the site (being that the original intention of this site was to acts as a hub to explore), but also a chance for people to explore new artists, new genres, and new albums before deciding to purchase them (also from links on AFGM's site).

Full album streams seem to be a new fad that a lot of internet savvy people are jumping on.  It can be in the form of a Soundcloud widget, a YouTube playlist, or even a single YouTube video.  This often gives record labels a chance to promote new artists and for people to subscribe to their social media pages.  So hopefully this provides you access to some new music, bands, and/or artists.  Cheers!

PS - Feel free to send us an email if you have any albums you think you should be on this list or a new one coming out we missed.  We're always listening!

(Artwork by AFGM.  Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, the six piece djent metal band Volumes has made great success with Mediaskare Records since their debut EP in 2009, titled The Concept of Dreaming.  Their blend of djent, rap, and funk give this group some versatility through their past two albums, Via, and No Sleep.  The group is known for its bouncy riffs, and catchy melody hooks.

The group had a slight change up in vocals, but for the past few years, the lineup has been:

Gus Farias – Vocals | Diego Farias – Guitar, keyboards | Raad Soudani – Bass
Nick Ursich – Drums | Myke Terry - Vocals

Different Animals was released on June 9th, 2017 via (newly inked) Fearless Records.  The album was produced by Brandon Paddock and Diego Farias.

(Album artwork is courtesy of Volumes and Fearless Records)

1. Waves Control
2. Finite
3. Feels Good*
4. Disaster Vehicle
5. Pieces
6. Interlude
7. Hope
8. Tide's Change
9. On Her Mind (ft. Pouya)*
10. Heavy Silence
11. Pullin' Shades*
12. Left for Dead

(* = AFGM Recommendations)

"That’s exactly what you get with the second and second-to-last tracks, with Terry’s vocals bouncing off buoyant hip hop production. “Finite” and “Pullin’ Shades” are two of Volumes’ best tracks to date and push their sound to new and more adventurous territory. The djent/prog metalcore undertone and groove is still there, but these songs are smooth, silky numbers first and foremost. I hesitate to call it urban metalcore because that gives the notion that this is nu nu-metal…" -New Noise Magazine

"I wouldn’t say this is a themed album, so much as it’s really well-balanced. Every song compliments the others without being filler, and they don’t jam all the heavy or all the tearful together. My only gripe would be that they end the album one song late – “Pullin’ Shades” is an incredible album finisher, but then we get another, perfectly acceptable “metal” track to round out the album." -Heavy Mag

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Art of Anarchy - The Madness

When the music world lost Scott Weiland, he left behind lots of great memories, and also some fellow musicians that still had the urge to continue on with their music endeavors.  While most people would list Stone Temple Pilots or Velvet Revolver as the first choices for this void, I was referring to his loosely associated band Art of Anarchy.  Now, let's be real, Scott didn't invest much time and effort into this band, despite the lineup having some fame with GnR's Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal or Disturbed's John Moyer.  Once hearing the band put out their debut album, I was very impressed with both the production and the musicianship.  The vocal were obviously awesome, but the band definitely had a good sound going.

So after the untimely death of Scott, the band was left with yet another void to fill.  It's almost uncanny they hired another 90's hit maker, and a singer with his own personal issues to work out.  In a shock to the music world, Creed's Scott Stapp had come out of hiding (after his series of drug abuse and counselling session) and stepped up to the plate.  This was a different dynamic for Scott to work with.  It was heavier, faster, and more along the lines of metal.  I guess that's interesting on how the other members of Creed formed an equally heavier band called Alter Bridge.

(Photo courtesy of Century Media Records)

Anyways, Art of Anarchy came roaring back with their new singer, and a new album.  I was over impressed with the compatibility of the members.  While Scott's voice was recognizable, Scott's deep voice complimented the sound of the band, and can be heard throughout the first few tracks such as "No Surrender", and "The Madness".  Keep in mind that they can definitely keep the ballads coming as well, such as "Let You Down".

While I have always been a Scott fan since his "Human Clay" days, I really hope that Scott continues on with Art of Anarchy.  I think it's a great fit for him, and the band has sounded better than ever (there are a few shredding moments throughout the album that are fantastic).  It also seems like a great mutual benefit for all parties as well; Scott gets to continue making music like he always has, as well as his name bringing a slew of fans and some popularity.

"The Madness" was released on March 24th, 2017 via Century Media Records.

(Album artwork courtesy of Century Media)

1. Echo of a Scream
2. 1000 Degrees
3. No Surrender
4. The Madness
5. Won't Let You Down
6. Changed Man
7. A Light in Me
8. Somber
9. Dancing with the Devil
10. Afterburn