Korn – The best band this decade?

To put forward my case I’ll start from the very beginning, over 12 years ago. Korn’s debut studio album was released, rather un-creatively titled Korn. With their career officially off the mark and out into hands of the masses and with tracks such as the timeless Blind and quirky Shoots and Ladders its fair to assume fans had high hopes.

I can only guess that most fans over the following five years had just about written off the band before the second studio album release Life is peachy. Oddly their third album Issues came in the same month, however I personally think this was a blessing because Life is peachy is by far their worst album, I have favourite tracks off all of their albums except this one, and with Issues concealing some of Korn’s darkest and most intense tracks it probably saved their ass.

Now we are taken into the new millennium and in 2002 their forth album Follow the Leader hits the market. This would be the first Korn album I picked up and bought, it was this album that I discovered the band and would never look back.
The first four tracks to this album are just pure and simply awesome and still sound fresh and original to this day. It would be hard to believe that the album as a whole could progress after such a solid beginning but with experimental rap offerings with the help from the likes of IceCude, Hip Hop bass line teasers, mean guitar riffs and the truly brilliant dynamic vocals from Jonathan Davis the album is a master peace.

With the band on a creative roll, later the same year their fifth album Untouchables came along. Interestingly I struggled with this one but it featured a handful of accessible tracks, Here to Stay getting commercial radio play and featuring on World Wrestling. It wouldn’t be for a few years later that I realised one of my favourite Korn tracks of all time was on this album, maybe a hint that they were ahead of their time.

2003 brought there sixth Studio album, admittedly at the time I was suspicious of what to expect after my disappointment with the previous but ultimately overwhelmed and relived. Take a look in the Mirror is probably their best, most solid album, track after track of heavy guitar riffs and vocal hooks. It’s dark, mean and kicks ass. Right Now, Here it comes again and Deep Inside are just a few to mention but there isn’t a bad track on the album and features Did my time, the title sound track to Tomb raider 2 plus a bonus track, a Metallica cover!

Korn had proved to me that they stood the test of time, after playing Take a look in the mirror to death it made it irresistible to listen to all their older albums and revive that (now officially self proclaimed) Korn fan.

In 2005 we had a Greatest Hits album and Seventh Studio album See you on the other side contained a few treats and some bonus dance mixes that would rival any super star DJ. And in 2005 a couple Live, rare and unplugged offerings suggesting the band had had their day, but a respectable one at that.

2007: And then…..I here that Korn have done MTV Unplugged and soon after released their eighth studio album. Admittedly the thought of Korn doing Unplugged made me very nervous. But, sticking to there philosophy of trying out ideas I was nicely surprised they’d pulled some of it off. Kicking off with a Latin version of Blind and introducing a couple of guests including Amy Lee and some Japanese Drummers, there are some really nice moments.

Their new album however, again not the most creatively titled untitled contains some of the most genius tracks I think I ever heard. Bitch we got a problem using exceptionally cool synthesized licks, Evolution sticking to Korn’s trade mark power choruses and verses packed full of rhythm, the album gets of to a winning start.
And then it comes to the track Hold On. Now let’s get one thing clear, I am a fan of music from a massive array of genres. I know music is ultimately down to taste but I like to think I have a pretty good idea. Taking into consideration Korn’s career, and thier moments of pure brilliants, one would think they had peaked along time ago.

Hold on is probably the one most single peace of pure and utter genius I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. With a couple of clicks of the drum sticks the trade mark Korn sound pours through the speakers and without any nonsense in kicks the punchy verse riff soaked with rhythm. Naturally the vocal melody perfection from Jonathan Davis completes the beginning. The Chorus has the head nodding appeal that even the Churchill dog would applauded. Into the second verse and in sneaks some random experimental analogue noises. Korn have somehow reinvented them selves yet without loosing their sound. This track is fresh, dynamic, perfection and pure fucking genius. And I dare say, the band has truly peaked.

It maybe unfair to single out a band as being the best but is Korn the best band of this decade? With eight studios albums under there belt, each containing experimentation, creativity and not a guitar solo in sight. Maybe not, but they sure as hell are one of them.

The Best Techno Artists (Who you may never know)

I’ve being following a recording label for over eighteen months now, which has opened up a whole new little world of techno artists that most people would never know about. I know that I wouldn’t have discovered them myself if it wasn’t for total chance while on a trip to Berlin early 2006. I can’t help but to be always on the look out for new and interesting music (its in my blood), so when I heard some ‘refreshingly awesome techno’ thumping out of the impressive PA system, in some cool and edgy bar deep in Berlin, I couldn’t resist inquiring.

Thanks to the wonderful internet I was able to pay a small fee and download the Album back in the UK, and obviously find out exactly who was involved.

The label Audiomatique (http://www.audiomatique.com/) and the key artists involved being Martinez, Trentemoller and (since discovered) Jeff Bennett of Pokerflat Recordings (http://www.pokerflat-recordings.com/).
If you’re interested in discovering some alternative techno music then search for the following tracks as a starter and take it from there:

Physical Fraction – Trentmoller

Prana – Trentmoller

Twilight – Martinez

Have Fun!

Propellerhead Reason 4 – Upgrade Fiasco

Well, after several days messing around transferring our licences over to the new Propshop account, it then turns out that we can’t upgrade our copy of Reason. Not becuase it’s the older Version 1. But because it’s an “NFR” version. These are versions which are shipped out to journalists, traders and bands/producers to help promote the software, and this is what we have been using for the last 6 years. We’ve been very impressed with Reason, and it’s proved usefull on many occasions, but we’ve never felt the need to upgrade till now.

The new version of Reason has a new modular synth, a groove mixer and more interestingly for us (since we ditched the CS2X) , an arpeggiator! So it’s quite upsetting to find that even through we’re prepared to fork out for the upgrade, Propellerhead won’t permit us to do so. We can however, if we wish, pay full price for the full version (some 400EU!). Sadly, this it way out of our budget for software. And it does lead me to think that it’s actually alot of money for any band, so that basically means it’s marketed for the full time musos and producers who can get the software for free!

Nice move Propellerhead! You just earned yourself £0 from all bands like us. Surely it would make more sense to have some kind of banner exchange? Or promotional contract where bands using the software get discounts in exchange for wearing Propellerhead t-shirts on stage? That’s just two ideas off the top of my head, so surely there must be another option?

But that would be sensible now wouldn’t it. So, no new toys for Reborn. Will just stick with Version1 thanks very much.

Griff’s Telecaster Pics

OK, so I though I should some pics of the actual guitar rather than just some generic pics off t’interweb. What you’re looking at here is a Squire Fat Telecaster, with a Seymour Duncan HotRails in the bridge, and a 59 Model in the neck.

The strings currently fitted are 10-52 Fender Stainless “350”. But normally I sue Ernie Ball “Skinny Top Heavy Bottom” which are the same size, but a bit easier on the frets. The Fenders sound great but are a bit abbrasive on the poor fret wire. I’ve also stopped using the Fender strings on the Jag-Stang as you could actually see the wear!

Also worthy of note is the saddles. When I first started gigging with this guitar, it would break strings with regularity. It was a constant source of frustration, and often the reason why you would see my playing the Ja-Stang a the end of a gig. (and also why you would often see the Telecaster flying accross the stage).

I soon realised that the strings were snapping at the saddle, so I had them filed and grooved by a luthier. It didn’t help much, so after a bit of investigation I came accross the Graph Tech saddles. Now, not only do these things look cool (being black graphite) they self lubricate and in theory, microscopically mould to the string. The end result is that I haven’t broken a single string since I fitted them. They’re also really comfy for blocking.

Another modification I’ve made is to the switchgear. As I rarely switch pups, but regularly alter the tone and volume, I switch the plate around. It also means it’s alot harder to accidently switch pickups when you’re jumping around the stage. It’s an idea I saw and blatently robbed from the Fender Custom Classic Telecaster. Now that I’ve got better pickup balance I might well reverse the plate again…we shall see!

The final mod (which was actually the first) was to change the jack socket. It’s a real weakspot on the Telecaster. The normal/vintage jack is held in place by a flexed piece of steel which pushes against the sides of the cavity. It’s a rubbish design becuase if you stand on your guitar cable, it will sometimes pull the socket right out, and there’s no way in hell it will go back in the middle of a gig, it’s screwdrivers and pliers time! So a quick visit to Stewmac, a couple of days on a DHL plane and I had a nice new Electrosocket. This is a machine lathed piece of aluminium which is screwed in place. There’s no moving it now!

End result of all these things is a Telecaster which is a real workhorse. It’s robust, reliable and sounds better than any off the shelf Fender.

Erics Guitars – Fret Buzz

I decided to use the power of the web to learn about eliminating the fret buzz that my jag-Stang seems to have picked up over the last few years.

This is pretty educational and useful to any guitarist who wants to set up their own guitar (rather than pay some half stone guitar tech to do it)

It’s pretty funny too. FRET BUZZZZ !!

Courtesy of Erics Guitars

Telecaster – Replacement Bridge Pickup

Following on from my previous post, where I fitted a new Telecaster neck pickup : That’s been the setup pretty much since 2002 till now, but I’ve always been unhappy with the bridge pickup since fitting the Duncan 59 to the neck. It’s a common situation and not entirely unexpected. Many people recommened changing both pickups at once, otherwise the guitar can become unbalanced. And this is exactly what happened. Setting my sound up for the neck pup,I found that when switching over to the stock bridge pickup, the sound was thin, quiet and totally useless. Conversely, when setting up for the bridge pickup, I found that switching to the humbucker made the sound thick and wooly, and distorting in all the wrong places (mainly the bass range).

As a result, I’ve pretty much been using just the neck pickup all the time, but recently I’ve been craving some lighter tones from the bridge, so I made the decision to finally get the bridge pickup replaced.

Again, I wanted to stick with Seymour Duncan. There are many choices of direct replacement. Including stacked single coils, as well as single coil sized humbuckers. Outside of that, you can replace the bridge plate with one from somwhere like StewMac (Stewart Macdonald) which accepts a full size humbucker.

I didn’t fancy routing out the guitar, and I knew I wanted a humbucker, so this gave me two choices. The Little ’59 or the Hot Rails.

The Little 59, as the name suggests, is again based around the PAF pickup, but in a single coil sized package. It has to be said, it looks pretty damn cool! It’s attraction was that it should pair off nicely with the existing 59 in the neck, and still keep some of the original telecaster twang. It was very higly recommeneded on the Telecaster Forum and on Harmony Central.

It’s a little known fact that for a couple of years, Kurt Cobain actually played a Telecaster at most of his concerts, and his Tele was fitted with a Hotrails. So this was natrually my second option.

The reviews for the hotrails were not so favourable. Many people say it was too harsh and you loose the telecaster sound, this put me off to start with, but I soon started to think that I actually didn’t care about loosing the telecaster sound, and was it really a good idea to have a similar pickup in the neck (Lil 59)? The more I thought about it, the more I realised that keeping some dynamics in the setup would be a good idea, so I bought the hotrails.

What can I say? What a great idea what was! I have a lovely clean sound from the neck, which responds well to crunchy overdrive, and I’ve got a totally shred-tastic ceramic humbucker in the bridge. With some rectifier style overdrive, this thing sounds like death! I LOVE IT! It’s the ideal Telecaster pickup for grunge or metal.

The total unforseen bonus is the combined setting, when both the neck and bridge pups are selected, you get the most fanstastic clean sound, which turns into a Stevie Ray Vaughan type sound with a bit of overdrive. I’m absoloutly over the moon.

This cheapy Tele is fast becoming my preferred guitar !

Telecaster – Replacement Neck Pickup

I’ve been playing my Candy Apple Red Telecaster for about 5 years now, and it’s had a few modifications along the way.

It started life as an off-the-shelf Squire Fat Telecaster. It was resonably priced and ideal as a stage workhorse which I wouldn’t be too bothered about damaging. However the stock pickups soon started to show their weaknesses.

Being a “Fat” Telecaster, this guitar came preloaded with a full size humbucker in the neck position, this gave a really warm sound, and most importantly, it responded well to overdrive and distortion, but I soon started to detect the muddiness and set out to find a new pickup.

I did shop around for a bit, but I quickly decided it just HAD to be a Seymour Duncan pickup. but which one? Well to be fair, being in the neck position, I wasn’t spoiled for choice and following some recommendations and reviews, I settled for the ’59 Model Humbucker. This is modelled around the PAF pickup found in the original Gibson Les Paul and SG. It’s got a really great sound when clean and chugs along nicely when I stomp on my Guv’Nor II distortion pedal.