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Farewell from Brad Amoroso | Backyard Babies | HIM

April 29, 2004

 
Backyard Babies-
"Stockholm Syndrome"
 
By Mark Wyers
 
The past few years have seen an absolute surge in
musical output from the fine countries of Scandinavia.
Among the notable Scandinavian bands are Entombed,
Meshuggah, Mayhem, as well as the Hellacopters, the
Nomads, Gluecifer, and the Backyard Babies.   
 
The Backyard Babies have a new album out entitled
"Stockholm Syndrome."  Their sound is characterized by
the husky/masculine vocals of Nick Borg, and the blues
-inflected guitar playing of Dregen (ex-Hellacopters). 
Stockholm Syndrome is their fourth full-length album, and 
they seem to be getting better.  
 
Stockholm Syndrome is a foray into slower but better
songs for the Backyard Babies.  Not as punk as "Total
13" (second album), and a little more rock than the last
one (Making Enemies is Good).  Also, their
melodies, harmonies, and chord structure seems to be 
better than ever.  
 
Highlights:  A Song for the Outcast, Minus Celsius,
Earn the Crown, Friends (featuring Michael Monroe, Joey
Ramone, Danko Jones, and Nina Persson), and Pigs for
Swine.
 
You may ask yourself, "Why should I care about a band
from Stockholm, Sweden?"  My answer is that the best
"American"-ized music is coming from this part of the
world.  The music in the US is becoming more and
more commercial, and the music in the rest of the world
is something to be looked at.  
 
 So, if you're growing tired of Blink 182, Creed, or
 any number of other bands--BUY THIS-NOW!!!!!

 


HIM-"Razorblade Romance"
 
By Mark Wyers
 
HIM (His Infernal Majesty) are another of our favorite
Finnish bands.  Led by singer/crooner Ville, HIM are
often considered a Goth-Metal band.  However, for our
purposes, we will call them a Goth-pop band.  
 
Just looking at the cover art, I thought that they
would sound a lot like Motley Crue, or maybe the Cult,
but they sound more like Type O Negative-lite, meets
U2 and David Bowie.  Ville (vocals) really is a crooner
with a soft baritone voice, and recalls thoughts of
Roy Orbison, David Bowie, and Bono.  
 
The album is very well written, with heavier pop/rock
songs, and a few great power ballads.  The guitars on
the heavier songs are at the front of the mix, and are
sickeningly thick.  
 
Highlights include a great version of Chris Isaac's
Wicked Game, Gone with the Sin, Razorblade Kiss, Bury
Six Six Six.  
 
GO BUY IT! 

 

 

And In EndÖ

A ĎCí student with ĎBí potential says goodbye

By Brad Amoroso

When I first came here, it was the fall of 1992.  I had just graduated from Monticello High School (ĎCí student) and was recruited by Marty Reynolds to play the alto-sax for the UAM Marching Band and the Jazz Band.  I was a young hotshot without a worry in the world, and I didnít realize it then, but I was part of the last few waves of a cultural revolution. 

There was a Democrat in the White House for the first time since the 70ís, the memory of the most successful military campaign in U.S. history had peaked and started to decline, Americaís un-funniest home video made Rodney King a household name, and the ensuing L.A. riots personified the attitude of a restless generation that was tired of taking a beating from the elite, only to be swept under the media rug and ignored.  This change found its way into the entertainment industry when a new generation of movie makers explored a dimension of ďbad guysĒ that hadnít been explored outside of ďmob movies.Ē And for the first time in a long time, popular music had a social conscience. 

It was a brave new world.  Like the Berlin Wall, cultural walls were falling left and right.  The media quickly came up with new and catchy names for old things that werenít deemed ďlabel-worthyĒ before.  Words and catch-phrases, like ultra-violence, grunge, alternative rock, gangsta rap, and generation X, all became vernacular staples.  And I was a first-year freshman at UAM:  oblivious, pre-occupied, indifferent.

By semesterís end, I had lost my scholarship (somewhere in between the Science Center and the Music Building), been kicked out of the nest, and faced the responsibilities of having to pay my own bills and make my own decisions.  I didnít have time to be scared, so I went with what I knew: oblivious, pre-occupied, indifferent.

After seven years of being stuck in neutral, I returned to UAM as a non-traditional student; a 25-year-old, 2nd semester freshman.  I didnít bother looking for my lost scholarship and decided to start anew as an English Major.  I made it a point to get to know my new advisor, and it paid off; she gave me reassurance in a time of uncertainty and doubt.  After stumbling through my first semester, I limped back to her office only to find someone else there.  She was gone.

After meeting my new advisor, it was clear to me that she needed the same reassurance that I did.  Before then, I had never seen an instructor in a state of uncertainty before, and it had a profound effect on me.  A psychological wall had crumbled in my mind, and from that point on, I stopped being a student and started being myself; I stopped studying for tests and started studying for knowledge.  I stopped being afraid of not knowing the answers and started to shout out, with pride and confidence, the most honest and beautiful answer a student or a professor can give: I donít know.

That simple phrase let me see the difference between pride and ego; another psychological wall down.  Looking at higher education through new eyes changed everything, except my grades (Iím still a ĎCí student).  But I know if I gained something from a class, and I donít need a letter on a sheet of paper to confirm it.  The knowledge I gained while at UAM far exceeds the sum of the courses Iíve taken.

Since I started back in 1999, Iíve seen good teachers come and go.  Iíve had to change advisors three times.  And when I leave, there will be a group of great teachers and professors that leave with me.  Some of these teachers will never know how influential they were to me; teachers that were never afraid to say, ďI donít know.Ē  UAM will suffer a huge loss when these people leave, but thatís another story. 

Iíll leave here feeling very fortunate that in my five years at this school, Iíve not had one instructor who wasnít passionate about teaching.  All of my instructors have encouraged independent and critical thinking.  They all embraced standing up for what is right and true, they have treated every one of their students with equal respect (even the students do not yet understand the concept of respect), and they all taught me the importance of self-confidence.

We are now in the grips of another great wave of social change that wonít be fully understood until itís behind us, and I leave UAM filled with a different kind of uncertainty and doubt.  I donít know how well ďI donít knowĒ works in the ďreal world.Ē  In the ďreal world,Ē job markets lead people like me around the country with a dangling hope of happiness just out of armís reach, chasing a promise of security, stability, and success that was never promised to begin with.  Iíve been around just long enough to see that the only thing certain in this world is uncertainty.  And the notion of ďjob securityĒ isnít much more than a dyslexic way of saying ďsecurity job.Ē  I hate to be a cynic, but I like having realistic expectations.  I know I canít change the world, but if I could, Iíd have to be able to change myself first; and that isnít an easy task; in fact, it seems to get harder with age.

Change is a fear of the stubborn and content, and I am a bit of both.  Evolution is a slow and painful process, and it makes no promises.  If Iím strong, Iíll survive.  But survival is only the first step, and itís the easiest step on which to become stagnant.  The next step is to look beyond survival and take on the responsibility of having a social conscience.  This cycle started for me at UAM, but it wasnít completed.  It wasnít until this last semester that I took a peek past the basic student-survival skills, and I saw situations unfold right in front of me that rubbed against my moral grain; things much bigger than me.  I felt a sense of purpose overwhelm me, and I wanted to fight the good fight for once, find the truth, and let my voice be heard.  But it wasnít meant to be, not by me at least. 

Still, Iíll leave here with no regrets, but I donít want to leave in my wake a trail of fear for those who will be in my position down the road, so Iíll leave this advice for all of the UAM students who still have the luxury of time: Time is not a luxury; donít wait until your last semester to open your real eyes.  Student eyes canít see beyond grades, transcripts, audits, and resume fodder.  If you can make a stand, make it, if you can see the hidden truth, unveil it.  This is what higher education is all about: preparation for the brutish realities of adult life.  No one ever achieved greatness without being controversial, or risking alienation and other negative consequences.  In fact, it is a requisite.

So long, UAM; itís been real.  Iíll see you in ďthe real world.Ē

ďAnd in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.Ē 

                                                -the last lyric, of the last song, on the last Beatlesí album

Iíd like to thank the following instructors for their patience and wisdom:

Dr. Betty Matthews:  Youíre much more than a professor to me.  Youíve seen me at my worst, and you were there for me.  Thanks for never breaking your promise that things will get better.  Thank you for loving Keats so much and giving me the best advice ever given.  I love you with all of my heart; thank you for everything.  (Norman Conquest- 1066)

Dr. Kate Stewart:  Thank you for teaching Critical Theory last summer.  Iíve never been more comfortable and interested in a single class.  Thank you for giving me new eyes to watch movies with, for I donít even bother watching John Woo or Joel Schumacher movies anymore.  Thank you for showing me the beauty of saying ďI donít know, but Iíll check on it and get back to you,Ē and thanks for changing the way I look at rainy days (Heart of Darkness).   

Dr. Robert Moore:  Although I never had you as an instructor, your advice and your willingness to be open and honest with me taught me the natural beauty of the ugly truth, and I thank you for it.  You are the ďpoet of truthĒ in my book, and thank you most of all for reminding me to listen to my heart and to be honest with myself.  Your kind words of wisdom will be with me forever.  You are a class act, man.  Thanks.

Charles Fleis:  Thanks for being my ďgo-to guyĒ for things beyond French that I didnít understand.  You are one of the smartest and quickest guys Iíve ever met.  Someone really dropped the ball for letting you leave.  Weíre from different layers of the same generation, from different parts of the same country, and Iím proud to call you a friend.

Chris Wright:  Youíre another one of the smartest guys Iíve had the pleasure of knowing.  Just as Dr. Stewart changed the way I watch movies, you changed the way I watch the news.

Guy Nelson:  Thank you for showing me how to use the weak side of my brain.  Youíre enthusiasm is contagious, and that makes you a great instructor. 

Joe Geunter:  Although we just met, thank you for having confidence in me even when I was hopelessly behind.  I had forgotten how effective dry wit could be.

Diane Payne:  I knew you were one-of-a-kind when I first saw your bumper sticker that read, ďWhy be normal?Ē  For showing me the secrets of effective writing, Iím forever grateful.  Thank you for busting me out whenever Iíd take an easy-out on a story that wasnít done, thank you for being a good advisor, and thank you for being a good friend and an open ear.  (I know this is sentimental dribble, but itís true.) 

Patricia Roberts:  Iíve known you for the least amount of time, but youíve taught me more than I could ever imagine possible.  You inspired me to be a better student, and that isnít an easy task, especially for someone new to teaching.  Thank you for showing me that I am a truth-seeker by nature who, somewhere along the line, succumbed to laziness.  The guts and grit you showed this semester will stay with me forever as a reminder that the voice of the professional needs to be heard, no matter what.  I cannot measure the amount of respect I have for you as a journalist, a teacher, and a friend.  Thank you for believing in me.  Your impact on me, as a writer and a person, will always be felt.