Archive for the ‘Bad Religion’ Category

hawk SOUNDTRACK: BAD RELIGION-Christmas Songs (2013).

brThere’s been plenty of press about this Bad Religion Christmas album.  Greg and Brett have been interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

So what is a Bad Religion fan to make of this disc?  Bad Religion has, as its name states, no tolerance for any religion, especially Christianity.  So what the hell?

Well, as anyone who has grown up in America knows, these songs are ubiquitous.  But more importantly, these songs are quite good.  So why not give a try at punking them up.  What I appreciate about his album is that the band plays these songs absolutely straight.  Whatever their beliefs, they do not mess with the songs.  (I have absolutely enjoyed mocking versions of these songs, and I have many many goofy versions of them, but Bad Religion has never been goofy, so they sound like real Bad Religions songs–lyrics aside).

And so we get fifteen minutes (seriously) of great respectful punk renditions of traditional religious and secular Christmas songs.  In true Bad Religion form, the songs barely make it over 2 minutes long, but the lyrics are completely understandable and their harmonies are outstanding.  (Bad Religion has always had great harmonies but they are used to wonderful effect here).  Their version of “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” is amazing (even if I find it unsettling that some of his rhymes are weird (like that he pronounces it BethleHAIM to rhyme with proclaim).  The acapella opening is really impressive (Brett was in choir as a kid).  When the band hits the line where the drums play a counterpoint (for just one line), it’s really fantastic.  “O Come, All Ye Faithful” is just straight out punk.  “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” features some great backing vocals.  The Ramones-feel of “White Christmas” is a weird touch, but their delivery is spot on.

“The Little Drummer Boy” (a song I’m not terribly fond of in general) is quite good in this rendition–especially after hearing Brett say how complicated the measures are in this song.  It’s hard to do a bad version of “Angels We Have Heard on High” when you can harmonize as well as this band does.  And their version is great (I love the backing vocals on this as well).  Theirs is certainly the most aggressive version of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” I’ve ever heard (and I rather like it).  And “What Child is This?” has a solid riff to start with (it’s interesting to hear it on the guitar).  And again, the chorus is stellar.

They finish off the album with a remix of “American Jesus” a very anti-religion song (and perhaps a palette cleanser).  I didn’t notice how it is a remix, but it still sounds good.

Of course if you don’t like punk, you won’t like this, but I was really impressed with the care they put into these renditions.

[READ: December 24, 2013] Bad Santas

This book looks at the history of Christmas, but specifically at the creatures who caused mayhem and violence during the long winter holidays.  Indeed, our “traditional” Christmas celebration is a relatively new construct (you will be shocked to see how new it actually is).

kallikantzaroi_free_christmas_by_gpapanto-d5or453In Greece, during the twelves days of Christmas, goblins called Kallikantzaoi would steal things, destroy property and even abduct children.  In Finland, an evil goat called Joulupukki would demand gifts and punish evil children (he has since been turned into basically Santa Claus.

krampusAnd in parts of Italy and Germany, the witch Perchta would climb down the chimney.  But instead of giving presents to children, she would rip out their intestines and replace them with straw and stone.  (There’s a wonderful doll of Perchta here).  And anyone who has recently since the Grimm Christmas episode now knows of Krampus who is not only a real Christmas creature, (meaning Grimm didn’t make him up), he is still active and you can get Krampus cards.



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grantladn4SOUNDTRACK: BAD RELIGION-“Fuck You” (2012).

badrelIt’s hard to believe that Bad Religion has been around for thirty years and has never written a song called “Fuck You” before.  Typically they write songs with more profound lyrics.  So I guess this is kind of lazy.  But it’s still fun.

Bad Religion write (mostly) blistering punk songs in under three minutes   They have of course written longer songs, but mostly they do these quick tracks.  Despite the blister, Bad Religion also love harmonies and backing vocals–and for a punk band, they are quite melodious.

After all these years, the band still sounds good.  It’s true that it’s kind of hard to tell when certain songs were recorded as a lot of their music sounds similar.  However, on this track I think the middle slower part sounds like it might be a newer, fuller sound.  But still, when you get to the chorus, it’s hard not to recognize that old time Bad Religion.

[READ: December 26, 2012] “Denny Coughlin”

I have come not to expect too much from the fiction in Grantland.  It’s usually a fine story but not much more.  And that’s okay–I don’t think sports stories can be all that original–you either win or lose, right?

This story did things a little differently   It’s about prisoners playing hockey.  I didn’t even catch on that they were prisoners right away–I liked that the story doesn’t spoon feed the details, it just got right to the action.  Anyhow, in a prison in Walpole, MA, the prisoners from Southie would face the guys from Charlestown twice a week in the yard.

There were only two rules.  1) No injuries–if you get hurt, tend to yourself.  The guards are sick of people in the infirmary.  And 2) the ball is in play wherever it goes, even under the bench that the guards sit on.  The guards know to get up if the ball goes there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BAD RELIGION-The Empire Strikes First (2004).

I’ve been a fan of Bad Religion for ages. And then a few years back they reissued all of their old CDs, and I got BR overload. I didn’t listen to them for a while. Then recently, I decided to check out their newest CD, and was delighted to find that I’d only missed this one in the interim.

So, Bad Religion writes eloquent, fast punk songs. They are typically political, anti-religion, anti-war, anti-Republican. And main lyricist Greg Graffin has a PhD in what is essentially evolutionary biology. So, basically, Graffin is well-read (the lyrics have footnotes!) and knows big words. All of this in a two minute punk song.

And it’s the poppiness that surprises. BR have always given credit to the “oozin ah’s” on the records, and there are always lots of ooh’s and ah’s in the background. The choruses are catchy as all get out. And the songs are over in under three minutes. Actually, it’s when the songs go past 3 minutes that they tend to get into trouble. Fortunately that doesn’t happen too often. I’m not sure why, but the record seems to be lined up almost in order from short to long songs. So you get suckered into these great under two minute songs and then they pile up the long ones at the end. But that’s okay too, as some of the longer ones do add nice complexities to their arrangements.

There’s not a lot one can say about Bad Religion albums from one to another. Either you like the style or you don’t. However, for a bunch of old men, they rock pretty hard and they rock pretty well. And yet for all of their aggression (“Social Suicide” “Atheist Peace” “Sinister Rouge”) they are often uplifting and get you to sing along (“Live Again”). With a little less guitar these might even be chart toppers (perish the thought!).

[READ: June 30, 2008] “Antiheroes

I recently flew to California. I brought all of the back issues of magazines that have been piling up in my house. For some magazines it was four or five months! I didn’t finish them all but I knocked a good three or four pounds off of my carry on luggage by the time I arrived. (more…)

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