Sometimes we get the feeling that our musical landscape has gone topsy-turvy. Billy Corgan raps the lyrics to “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” in a commercial, and the genre Smashing Pumpkins helped spearhead is being found all over the map. With shoegaze both a blessing and a curse, one is thankful to note the style still has its semi-followers that like to lay down their own spin. Live from Brooklyn, NY, it’s Blacklist, intelligent modern rock for a nation that is regularly undercut by radio stations playing modern rock for strippers.
Anyone can protest hipster elitists constantly chiming in on how their audio’s been raped by the recording industry. Blacklist makes music that is both inspired by deep thought and accessible to anyone, with or without a degree in philosophy; atop this, it’s actually really good music and not simply a vehicle for ideology or angst. Bandmates Josh Strawn, Ryan Rayhill, Glenn Maryansky, and James Minor bring to life multiple genres condensed for the previously stirred imaginations while lending a darker Chicago-inspired spin to New York City indie rock with flavors of My Bloody Valentine and Killing Joke glazed for good measure.
According to singer/lyricist Strawn:
if you want to read my lyrics for the subtexts and hear us as a political band, you can certainly do that and you can practically get a reading list from our songs (Ibn Rushd, Omar Khayyam, George Orwell, Victor Serge, Arjun Appadurai, Ramin Jahanbegloo, Salman Rushdie, Slavoj Zizek, just to give you the short list). But if you just like the music, that works too. You don’t have to know who Akbar Ganji and Zakia Zaki are to appreciate ‘When Worlds Collide’ by us […] it is form or melody that succeeds first–if the more thought out ideas and agendas work too, they are only able to do so because the rest is already in place and one’s appreciation of one shouldn’t condition too much your ability to appreciate the other.
Smart words to live by, sure, but this is merely the tip of an intricately carved iceberg. Blacklist takes the atmospherics of U2’s The Edge, a little Mellon Collie-era Pumpkins and The Cure, throws it all in the blender with Dillinger Escape Plan mentality and radio playable songwriting. Then there’s just elegance all over. Moderate bombast on guitar, drums tempered like a Jeff Ament solo outing, and ready made rhythm all encompass Blacklist’s debut album, Midnight of the Century.
Do yourself a favor and find this album, because Blacklist might well be America’s answer to Muse and we all know how that band turned out (especially for the arenas).