Emily IS Strange

And here I am again, staring at the empty white block of WordPress space. You know, when I started this blog back in 2008, I thought of specific topics to cover in each post. Rants included my fourteen-year-old hatred for Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and all things normal. On the family computer, I most frequented my blog, MySpace, and Emily the Strange’s Society of Strange. I had over 3,000 posts on that society website. I was dismayed to find it no longer there one day. All of my “hard work” was wasted.

I was “different.” I was “misunderstood.” My hair was red and I skipped around the high school wearing fishnets and crazy skirts, undoubtedly designed by Tripp, the gothic clothing brand. I sported Emily the Strange gear, spent tons of money on band merchandise, and listened to nothing but Escape the Fate, Bullet for my Valentine, and the like. (Not the band The Like.)

Yep, I’m insulting the very girl who began this blog. The only decent things she did was start a blog in the first place, and name it “Blackbyrd” after The Beatles song. It could have been something like “There’s No Sympathy for the Dead” (ETF) or “Kiss and Control” (AFI), but it wasn’t.

My blog is growing with me, and that was made possible by my choice to name it “Blackbyrd.”

As for me, I will keep updating and growing. I’m thanking my fourteen-year-old self for buying those band tee shirts – they make for extremely comfy lounging tees now.

Marina is a dreamer

There are 6,080 songs in my iTunes. A majority of it them are by The Beatles and Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, recently I have added more to my collection.

I used to be the biggest fan of bands like Bullet for my Valentine, Escape the Fate (I even met them once) and LOVED Marilyn Manson. I still listen to this music from time-to-time, but I haven’t even bothered with Escape the Fate’s new album. I think this shows just how much I have grown up over the past few years. I put all of my band tee shirts away, and the only one I wear is my newer Beatles shirt. Even my Emily The Strange stuff has been shoved in a drawer; those tee shirts don’t get hung up anymore (though I am currently wearing my Emily yoga pants – they’re so comfy!).

Anyway, I’ll get to the point. Now, the top six artists that I have listened to for the past two years (according to last.fm) are The Beatles, Paramore, Tilly and the Wall, Flyleaf, Imogen Heap, Eisley, The Bird and the Bee and Vampire Weekend. Things have changed, huh?

I have quickly transitioned from being completely closed-minded when it comes to music to listening to anything and everything. I love almost every genre (though screamo does give me a bit of a headache now). Recently, though, I’ve become an indie girl. It’s catchy and I cannot help it.

So, I recently expanded my iTunes library even more. I downloaded tons of Florence + The Machine, Adele, I Blame Coco and many more. However, I knew that I was onto something the moment I listened to a song by Marina & The Diamonds.

Since downloading her music last week, I have listened to her 148 times. She’s all I listen to on my iPod and all I have on CDs in my car. Her sound is just so different from anything I have ever heard before. She’s completely original and creative. Her music videos are INSANE (and I usually don’t watch music videos, but I had to see what hers were like) and her music is just so damn catchy. Her lyrics are completely blunt and awesome; she’s not afraid to express what she thinks. She’s beautiful and talented and does not have to dress like a slut to make it so her music is popular.

From “Girls”:

“Is there any possibility
You’ll quit gossiping about me
To hide your insecurities
All you say is ‘blah, blah’

Girls they never befriend me
Cause I fall asleep when they speak
Of all the calories they eat
All they say is ‘na na na na na’ (na na na na na)”

My favorite song of hers (though it sounds odd) is called “Hermit The Frog.” I think that I’ll be obsessed with her music for awhile. I can’t wait for more CDs to come out.

Except Nickelback, of course

I used to be genre specific. Well, I’m definitely not anymore. Thanks to my best friend, I’m really into country; a genre I used to put away in disgust. Now, I’m open to anything. Except Nickelback, of course. *shudders*

For example, I have 114 songs in my iPod’s “Recently Added” playlist. Therein lies the art of some more Vitamin String Quartet, The Beatles, Thomas Newman, Inara George, Psapp, Feist, A Fine Frenzy, Miike Snow, Snow Patrol, Au Revoir Simone, Bishop Allen, Architecture In Helsinki, Taio Cruz, Rihanna, Timbaland, Regina Spektor and Boys Like Girls. I don’t care anymore. Give me something, and I’ll listen to it.

For track practice the yesterday, we had to go out on a long run. Since I seem to be lacking in the running partner department, my best friend gave me her iPod Touch (knowing that taking my 160GB on a run with me would kill me and that I didn’t bring in my old 4GB nano), set me up for her playlist to play and then sent me off on my way.

She’s country (like Jason Aldean’s song). Downright country. She lives on a farm and in their barn, the radio is always attuned to the country radio station. In the morning, she watches music videos on CMT, when she comes over to my house she switches our kitchen radio to 106.5 and in the car she always changes it to her station. She’s the reason why I am into country music now, but my run with her iPod surprised me even more. I listened to every song on her playlist of choice that played, and found that I could tolerate – and even possibly liked – every song that played. It carried me through what would otherwise have been a long, lonely and painful run (let’s just say that Emily needs new sneakers). It was still painful, but it didn’t seem nearly as lonely or long.

I’ve got artists like Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Sarah Buxton and Lonestar on my iPod. At this point, I can go from Marilyn Manson or Every Time I Die to Lady Antebellum on shuffle without even blinking an eye. I uploaded every CD I owned from when I was little onto my computer and now have all of them on my iPod (yes, this includes Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado and Dixie Chicks).

I honestly just don’t care anymore. Music is meant to bring people together, not tear us apart. I will always love bands like Escape the Fate, Bullet For My Valentine and AFI, but they are taking the backseat for a little while. I’m busy exploring other genres and broadening my taste in music. It’s a wonderful thing.

The reason why my nose hurts

Wow. Warped Tour 2009? Awesome! I had my doubts, I’ll admit it, and now I can’t imagine why I ever had any. I saw some of the prettiest people I have ever seen, but I also saw some of the ugliest people I have ever seen in my life. There were people with gross piercings, girls all decked out in gothic clothing, girls with wayyy too much makeup on, lesbians (everywhere!), pimple-covered faces and people that barely had anything covered. I saw a bunch of girls that looked to be about twelve years old (and were probably even younger) that looked way too young to be in a place like that. They had no fear, though. Like most of the youth these days. They do what they want without respecting others. How annoying.

We got there and headed over to the blow-up thingy that had the stages, bands and times they were playing on it, and who should be playing on the stage near us whilst we were looking? Underøath! I saw Aaron, heard them announce “this next one is an oldie!”, realized it was “Its Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door” and you’d better believe I ditched my people and squeezed through the crowd until I could see (even though I still couldn’t really see). The drowning in my sleep part melted me.

101_0138We got our times and started walking around. We waited at the Rock Band tent for Escape the Fate to show up and start judging the “bands” that were playing the video game. When they arrived (accompanied by several squeals issued by moi), and sat down RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME (I was in the front right up against the “CAUTION” tape) I started snapping pictures left and right. Robert turned around and waved, and yes, I got a picture of it. I only wish I could have had my camera out for when he turned around again and flicked everyone off. That was awesome.101_0150

We hurried off to watch Chiodos after that. I surprised myself by knowing most of the words to their songs (much like I did back in November). We left that stage to go see Scary Kids Scaring Kids at the Hurley stage. I was so looking forward to seeing them, but that quickly melted away. I realized that I did not know ANY of the words. I knew the beat and the guitar parts and stuff, but because I barely ever understood what the singer was singing, I couldn’t sing along. They played “My 101_0158Darkest Hour” (my favorite song by them) but it wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. Kind of disappointing, but the crowd wasn’t all that into it either, so that was part of the problem. There really wasn’t much crowdsurfing during their set.

Madina Lake had the most energy out of anybody. 101_0164A big hairy guy almost ruined it for me, but my boyfriend and I scrambled around until we were as far away from him as we could get. I have not taken the time to listen to them in a long time, but every word to every song came back to me as soon as the music started playing. They opened with “Adalia,” played “House Of Cards,” mixed in some new stuff (which sadly I did not know) and ended with “True Love.” After being disappointed by Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Madina Lake provided the perfect pick-me-up.

101_0191Then, after being crushed in like sardines for A Day To Remember, I made my boyfriend and friend get up so we could get in the front101_0196 for Escape the Fate’s performance (FINALLY!). Once again, they opened with “The Flood.” They had enough energy, but not as much as Madina Lake. But I love Craig, Monte, Max and Robert anyway. Monte looked like a happy little Asian kid (his hair was lovely), Robert looked like Slash (like he normally does), I saw more of Max this time since I was on the side of the stage where he normally resides, so that was great, and Craig was his usual crazy fun-loving self. They performed “Situations,” surprised me with their performance of “Ashley,” played “You Are So Beautiful,”  rounded out the set with “10 Miles Wide” and ended with “This War Is Ours (The Guillotine II).” During one of the songs (I can’t recall which one) someone crowdsurfed and kicked me in the nose. It was awesome, but that’s why my nose is killing me right now. Before “10 Miles Wide” Craig said “now, I want to see every girl on top of some guy’s shoulders! Look at the guy in front of you, ladies, and hop on!”  Some guy turned around and looked at me, but I looked to my boyfriend who was standing behind me 101_0197with his arms around me and motioned for him to get down so I could mount his shoulders. I hopped on, got a GREAT view of the stage, and danced on his shoulders to the song whilst singing along. Craig jumped into the crowd and sang with a girl who was on someone’s shoulders, and boy, was I jealous! But, it was still awesome. I got down after that song, and my boyfriend pulled me out of the way before we were pushed into the Wall of Death.

Afterward I couldn’t stop raving about Escape the Fate’s performance. It was so much better than it had been back in November at Town Ballroom. My boyfriend wanted to watch Breathe Carolina, so we did (yuck!), but all I was thinking about was Escape the Fate. 101_0183

We left after Breathe Carolina, and wandered around the parking lot looking for his mom’s car. Then we hopped in and left. It was definitely a fun time. I can’t wait to see Escape the Fate for the third time. I promised my boyfriend that I would crowdsurf at that one. I’m little enough. 100_0364

It all started with a record player

A few weeks ago, I bought myself a record player. I was ecstatic to find it at such a good price, and was beaming as I walked out of the store with the box in my arms.

When we got home, I immediately took it into the Living Room and set it up. My parents taught me how to use it and to be careful not to jump around whilst listening to it. My mother and I ventured into the cave (our basement) to retrieve some of their old records to bring back some of the past. We carried armload after armload upstairs to the Living Room and left them in stacks all around the room. I left the ones I bought earlier that day (Coheed & Cambria and a Fueled By Ramen package that were extremely cheap) on the couch and my dad and I had a look-see to pick out what I should listen to first.

I thought my brothers would think it cool for me to have purchased a record player, but they avoided me like I had the plague. They seemed pretty pissed off and jealous that I got to one first and because my parents’ old one needs a new needle thing. Trevor especially because I bought Coheed & Cambria. Because he likes them, I’m not allowed to. Oh well.

My dad sat on the couch as I rifled through stack after stack, holding record after record up seeking his approval. All of the ones with his name written on them were the ones approved – all of the ones with Barbra Streisand on the cover were kept in a pile that I would not listen to. Sorry, mom.

I have discovered a whole new music taste thanks to my record player (though it does have a CD player, radio and iPod hookup included, I tend to listen to records on it more). I found out that I love the bands Sweet, REO Speedwagon (You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish), Joan Jett & The Black Hearts, The Knack, Boomtown Rats, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd, London Town and some Pat Benatar. I still love Escape the Fate, Paramore, Tilly and the Wall, and all of the other bands I have always loved, but I am now broadening my music taste. It’s cool to think that my parents played these records once at the same age I am now. I wish I could go back and meet the teenage versions of them. My mom and I would be identical, and I bet my dad and I would have fun listening to music together – just like we do now.

Meeting him

One of my very good friends and I attended a concert at Town Ballroom in Buffalo about a month ago consisting of A Skylit Drive, Alesana, Escape the Fate, Silverstein, and Chiodos. His brother drove us, and I would not have been able to go if Escape the Fate had not been going. He knew that ETF is my favorite band, and so I tagged along. (I never got around to writing about it until now – now the shock has worn off.)

After a very interesting trip to the mall (read older post), we were on our way. At the door, the big dude dressed all in black asked: “over or under 21?” I wasn’t thinking clearly and did not know what he was saying, so I replied with a stupid-sounding “huh?!?!?” and then I realized what he was asking right when he was repeating himself. “Oh…under!!!” I said. Christian only laughed at me.

Inside, we stood around for awhile before actually entering the performance room. We waited and waited and waited while A Skylit Drive got all of their equipment set up, and then they performed. I recognized a few songs that they played, but they are not my favorite so I definitely did not know them all. Christian did not know any, and nor did his brother.

After them, Alesana. I had heard a few songs by them in the past, and I did not exactly like them, but their freakish screaming woke me up and got me ready to listen to the best band of all: Escape the Fate.

While ETF was setting up, I was hyperventilating with excitement. I don’t think Christian is human because he did not seem very excited at all. Course, he’d been to concerts before whereas I had not.

They jumped onto the stage. Instantly girly screams of “whoooo!!!” escaped my mouth, but I did not care. My camera was out shooting pictures left and right and all over the place. The first song they performed “The Flood” was absolutely amazing. Craig is the best replacement of Ronnie that they could have ever asked for. Bryan’s guitar was phenomenal, Max was looking fine in bright red sneakers, and his voice sounded great next to Craig’s.

When their performance was over, I looked at my camera and realized that I had taken almost 100 pictures, and over ten videos. Next came Silverstein, and they calmed me down quite a bit. I hung back with Christian and his brother because neither of them knew the songs, even though I did. I recorded their whole performance of “My Heroine” and love watching it now whenever I get the chance.

After Silverstein was done and before Chiodos came on was the highlight of my whole night. We went out into the main room to buy some of the merchandise that was for sale, and I bought another ETF tee to join the one I already have (which Christian bought me, coincidentally). I bought a two dollar bottle of water, and we stood around, just people watching. Derek, Christian’s brother turned to us and said “isn’t that the lead singer of Escape the Fate standing right next to me?!?”

I started hyperventilating all over again. “OH MY GOD IT IS!!!!”

“Why don’t you go talk to him?” He said.

With that, I took off and tapped on Craig’s shoulder. “You guys were amazing! I took so many pictures and videos of you guys!!!” He said, “c’mere” and gave me a hug! Just as he let me go, I remembered my camera. “Christian!!! BRING MY CAMERA OVER HERE! Can I get a picture taken with you?!?!?!”

He replied, “sure!”

Now I have a picture of Craig making a face as if I am famous and he is meeting me for the first time. What a joker he is. Then Christian asked “wait, can I have one too?” and then I took the picture for him (and added the flash, I might say).

I will never EVER forget that for my entire life. I met the lead singer of my favorite band! Sure, he’s no Ronnie, but I think that I love Craig even more.

On to the next one with Escape The Fate (Older article)

It is somewhat advisable to stick with the old cliche: out with the old, in with the new. Escape the Fate is back and doing just that.

After “losing” former lead singer Ronnie Radke, the band recruited former blessthefall lead vocalist Craig Mabbit to fill Radke’s shoes. Although this replacement has been raising eyebrows since it became public, one cannot deny that the boys of Escape the Fate are bold for unveiling an album with an entirely different voice leading the way.

The boys released new single “The Flood” weeks prior to the big album release, bracing their older fans for the change that lay ahead. Despite a leak on the Internet, “This War Is Ours” hit the shelves Oct. 21 and exploded into the ears of many eager fans.

The album introduces itself with “We Won’t Back Down,” an energizing number that really gets Escape the Fate’s point across. Bryan “Monte” Money’s guitar-playing is beautifully musical, his guitar seeming to sing a tune all its own.

The Ashleys of the world won’t be disappointed to find that their name is the title of Track 3 on the album. If your name happens to be Ashley, simply press play, close your eyes, and pretend that Craig is singing a song just for you. “Ashley, baby, you make me feel so alive. I’ve got purpose once again. Yeah, yeah.”

The word so scarcely heard (if at all) in their first album now seems to be quite plentiful in this album. The word “baby” can also be heard in “Harder Than You Know” — probably the softest song Escape the Fate has ever released. The gentle lyrics are supported by soft “Ahhhs” in the background, and a nice calm guitar part that builds up to form the climax of the song, and then comes back down. Definitely not the Escape the Fate that fans have come to know and love, but perhaps it is a nice change.

Many fans were apprehensive about this album release while others embraced it. You’ll find many Ronnie vs. Craig arguments all over the Internet if you know where to look. Fans of Escape the Fate who have learned to accept Craig will enjoy this new album and sound that the band has produced.

Fans might miss Radke’s occasional shrieks and squeals from “Dying Is Your Latest Fashion,” but Mabbit brings something new to the table. With a new lead vocalist, the boys of Escape The Fate are trudging across the battlefield, fighting a war that is theirs.

KEY TRACKS: “We Won’t Back Down,” “On to the Next One,” “The Flood,” “This War Is Ours (The Guillotine II)”

Emily Steves is a sophomore at Gowanda.