29 December 2016

My 2016 In Music

Last 2016 recap of the year. I thought of making a video for this post, but these music recaps are mainly done for myself, plus I had a cold the past few days so my voice is very nasal.

Here's the music recaps of 2015 & 2014.

This year has been a long musical journey. I don't remember listening to so many different genres and so many bands in the last couple of years. I definitely grew distant from post punk like never before, which is a strange feeling, considering how much love I have for the genre.
Above all, I've returned to musical realms from the past and was excited to enjoy them like I've never did, which is a rare experience with bands one is already familiar with.

I've also listened to heavier music, inspiring myself to make it one day. And by the end of this year, this is what I'm wishing for the most.

1. And Also The Trees

And Also The Trees / The Soul Driver

Lowe and behold - I actually listened to more than A Retrospective! AATT were the only post punk band I actively listened to this year. I've enjoyed their The Klaxon album immensely, The Soul Driver (above) being one of my favorite tracks. Being a bass player and paying closer attention to bass lines in songs, I guarantee you this song is bassline heaven! It really makes the song for me.

Another notable mention is their acoustic album When The Rain Comes and the song Candace - simply haunting, the drums tickle with your heart.

2. Alice In Chains

Alice In Chains / Love Hate Love

Going back to past music favs - AIC are one of the bands I find most mesmerizing. And while I don't have to describe to you why this band is so influential and unique, I have to admit that AIC have always been sexy music to me. There's something oddly decadent - desperate yet "in your face" - when it comes to this band. Be it the drug lyrics (which have always sparked sympathy and sadness in me, considering Staley and all), the unforgettable vocals of Layne Staley or the songs, which often remind me of progressive rock rather than grunge (like the song Sickman for instance).

There are very interesting rock music components in AIC that do echo with standard hard rock, but offer so much more.

The song above is a great example of beautiful melodies and the kind of self-hating, desperate atmosphere AIC always bring with them, like someone trying to form their heaviest emotions through a blurry, alcohol and drug fused narrative, that is doomed to never be taken seriously.

3. Tool

Tool / Forty six & 2

I know, I wrote about Tool already and the last thing you want to read is me being 20 years late by praising them. However, I am very excited to be enjoying their music at last and slowly but surely digesting their albums with satisfaction.
There is everything here - progressive rock, beautiful melodies and vocals, bass lines to die for, drums fills to excite you in places you never thought drums could - and all shaped in the contemporary 90s sound of the time (the early albums at least). Is it grunge? Is it prog? Is it metal? Is Keenan crazy as hell? Fans have been asking themselves these questions for years.

I don't fucking care. Tool are amazing and I am enjoying them immensely. The earlier albums are so badass.

4. Uncle Acid

Uncle Acid / The Night Creeper

This year I've explored stoner/doom rock, and found some gems, UA being the band I listened to most. I admit that most bands in this genre sound the same and rarely go outside of the "guitars and bass play the same demonic sounding riff again and again trying to sound like Black Sabbath" box. You might as well go the extra mile and say that stoner/doom rock is lazy music.

In my opinion, UA are special because the vocals sound like Beatles and some songs do stand out. And while I enjoy this genre in a playlist/background music form, I've enjoyed a full album by UA and my only remark was that their drums deserve more versatility.

A notable mention here would be the band Stoned Jesus, which I completely fell in love with and listened to their album Seven Thunders Roar more than I could count. I am seriously considering going all the way to Wroclaw in February to see them live.

5. Opeth

It's been 10 years and I am still riding the Opeth wagon. They are not just a favorite band, and I am happy they have been with me this year.
The pinnacle of my crazy-ass deep emotional attachment to this band has to be their concert I attended in November, which had me losing my shit like never before. I was completely ecstatic - I sang all the guitar, bass, drums, back and lead vocals (+ lyrics) through the entire gig and headbanged like a 15 year old on their first metal concert. I don't think I was that excited when I first saw them in Israel in 2009.

I will get my hands on their new album (shame on me), the singles of which sounded surprisingly great live. Yet nothing beats old Opeth for me, and when they played Demon Of the Fall and Ghost of Perdition live I was *insert crazy slang expression of a person overly excited here*.
A lot of this year's recap as well as reflecting on the last 10 years has to do with this band, to say the least.

I guess that's all. I'm excited to see in which musical moods I'll be next year. What music did you enjoy this year?


6. The Mars Volta

I can't believe I forgot to write about THE band which I have been worshiping the entire year!!!! I have seriously been fangirling this band, and again this is me coming back to a band I know well just to realize how genius they actually are. Hardcore kids doing progressive rock, it can't get better than this. Take me Cedric Zavala
Also - At The Drive In have released a single a while ago and I actually like it. Could only stomach 2 or 3 songs by them till now, but the new one has got me hooked. Can't wait for the album!

I wish everyone a wonderful New Year's celebration and let your next year be filled with accomplishments, adventures and loves.
Thank you everyone for reading my blog and even enjoying it. I appreciate your comments  and opinions a lot. Love you!


23 December 2016

Blast From the Past: 2006 vs 2016

Everyone has been doing these #2006vs2016 posts on Instagram. Is the internet largely dominated by 20-somethings, so that comparing the last 10 years became such a thing? Maybe people are excited about how their physical appearance has changed as well. If you take puberty into account, then it certainly changes many things.

January 2006. This is one of my favorite pictures of myself.

2006 has been a key year for me. I was 15 (turned 16 in October) and so many things happened in my life back then:

1. I started my first blog in the infamous israeli blogging site, Israblog. I am forever grateful for myself for starting that blog. It is a curious time capsule of me as a perky yet angsty teen. I wrote many stuff reminiscing on 2006 back in December of that year. I love coming back to that post.

2. I finished middle school and started high school. Both in music major, and both schools being the most amazing educational experience in my life.

3. Israel had a war with Lebanon in the summer of that year, which made us run to shelter a few times per day. This lasted only 1 day though before my parents packed their bags, my brother and me and moved to our relatives in south of Israel where things were quiet. We basically spent our summer in the warm desert bathing in the pool. It was "the best war ever".

4. I was introduced to Opeth's music. In high school I met a few metalheads who introduced me to bands I wasn't aware of before. Enjoying some nu metal music and visual kei in 9th grade, 10th grade started with a mixed CD burned for me by a classmate featuring Opeth, Epica and a few more.

5. I met Boris. And the rest is history ;)

September 2006. I bought my first ankh and was wearing it all the time.
The picture above: I got my hair dyed purple (had it pink during the summer). I was completely oblivious about the various grooming habits. I didn't do my eyebrows or makeup, sometimes my nails but that was already a stretch. I believed makeup didn't suit me. I was tanned because it's normal in Israel. I had a good idea what clothes I wanted to wear but no clue how to style myself.
In general, I was a kid. I wasn't trying to act "mature", I was pretty goofy, loud and cheerful. Everything excited me and when I fell in love with Boris - the world changed.

I like how your appearance changes with time, but I mostly like how my thinking changes. Some of that happy, hyped fangirling Maria is still left in me. Some things grew stronger, some new things came. I am so grateful for being able to change. I wouldn't imagine staying the same thing all the time. I was eager for change back then, and I always am.
This is why I like Opeth so much - apart from enjoying the music, they have been with me in that very eventful year, my love for them hasn't changed one bit despite so many other things moving forward. They remind me that the person from 2006 is still there.
Needless to say Boris reminds me of that too in every aspect possible.

Picture by Emilie Arfeuil for her project on changes in appearance. Boris and I took part in the project for a few years now, check it out: Official Website.
2016 has not been so horrible for me. Sure, it was a lousy year globally, but personally this year has been exhausting and unsatisfying, yet not completely bad.
I had plans that did not happen, my orthopedic problems continued and it really brought me down. There are some career goals I had planned for Autumn that flopped as well and I am still jobless which is a huge problem. On the other hand, I've been to 5 different countries this year, a new record! I played in a band and realized which music I really want to make.
So all in all things weren't that bad. I can safely say that my worst year has been 2010 so far, but that is a story for another post.
I am looking forward to the next year. I want to achieve some things for myself in many directions. Fingers crossed.

Picture by Emilie Arfeuil


18 December 2016

Film Reviews: Fantastic Beasts, American Honey & more...

I have the feeling I've been watching so many movies lately. I also recently went to the cinema alone, we can cross that off the "things to do before you're 30 and such" list.

1. The Lone Ranger

Ok so when this movie came out and after it received all those horrible reviews I had no intention of ever watching it. A movie with Johnny Depp that's supposed to be bad, why add insult to injury? But I found myself home alone one evening and really wanted to watch something with a dark western atmosphere to it, another Deadman if you will, but not so calm and moody perhaps.
After reading some of the very positive comments on youtube I watched The Lone Ranger and didn't regret it one bit. It's anything but a dark western - it's just a comedy, people! Seriously, the trailer is so misleading!
It had so many hilarious moments where I was laughing like crazy. The setting is beautiful, the music is cool and it's basically an action flick allowing Johnny Depp to play himself all the time (that's why we love him, right?). I recommend this movie a lot for some good laughs and a positive, western heroic vibe.

2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Of course it's all over the theaters and I had to see the next Harry Potter related film! Even though I consider both main characters to be a bit underdeveloped (with all my love for Eddie Redmaybe), this movie was a lot of fun. There was action, awesome fantastic beasts and a glimpse into a different wizarding world, the latter being my favorite part. I loved the plot too - suppressing your magical powers will erupt in a big, dark, depressing black mass. I could queer that part of the film easily. The 20s theme was also charming, so just go and watch the damn thing!
Spoiler!!! Spoiler ahead!!!
Sadly the most wtf part of the movie was the revealing that the bad guy is.... Johnny Depp! Did he really have to be in the film for that 1 minute? Did he?

3. Inside Out

Somehow I missed that Pixar movie, so Boris and I sat down one evening for some animation fun. Well, the title doesn't lie, cause we very much felt "inside out" after watching this one. This is basically a crash course in psychology for the whole family. You can analyse the kid to such depths you end up asking yourself if this movie is fit for kids at all. And inevitably, you analyse yourself, your childhood and how it affected your adulthood and how things can turn a lot darker than what the movie depicts. On top of it all you are left with hope, just like the little Joy character in the kid's head, and that if all fails you will always have a little fairy-like character telling you you're the best who will love you no matter what.
Boris and I were crying like crazy through the entire film and a bit afterwards. I think I actually broke my record and cried after a short 1 minute of the movie's start.

4. Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

Enough with the crying, time to get tough and mighty! I can't believe I've never seen this one either. Aside from being a nice documentary about the history of metal music, it was endearing to watch interviews with musicians who are no more - Dio and Lemmy. It's also very contemporary to it's time, and the year 2005 is being given away by Cradle of Filth, Slipknot and Korn albums populating the stands at Waken: people having their hair colored red/black, girls wearing crop tops and black cargo pants. It was mostly a movie encapsulating a period of time where - in comparison to the years to follow - metal was at its peak.
The interviews with Mayhem and Gorgoroth were the highlight for me.

5. American Honey

Another new film I was very eager to watch. I thought this was going to be a Spring Breakers copy (loved that film btw) but I think American Honey had a lot more depth. It's not just about a poor girl going down the criminal road to get some money to have fun. It's about a different kind of poverty - a social one; trying to find a new family, a place to belong and fill the spaces that were previously hollow.
I admit the ending was underwhelming and it didn't feel like a proper ending to me, but the film is beautifully shot and is relatable on many levels.
I would also like to note the music - trap/hip hop was mostly used, like those songs about being swag, nobody's bitch, a badass... yet it reeked of desperation at the same time, and it was the combination of the 2 for me through the entire film. It left me with a lot to think about.


14 December 2016

Latest Fav Pop Tracks

I really enjoy writing about music lately, and I would really like to take you all on this little pop music playlist with me. That's right, I wasn't going to stay in music geek territory for long with all the snobbish progressive rock rants going on, but if it makes you feel any better - I am listening to Watain while writing this post.

Time to get my big genre-diversity guns out. I love pop music, very little in it repels me. I've loved pop music since I was a kid, loved to watch all the music videos on MTV, and I still do. There's something in keeping up with mainstream music and videos that makes me feel like I'm staying up to date with the current generation. If I don't do it I feel completely alienated. Hello, I am not going to sit here and not know what Lady Gaga wore to the Grammys!

Furthermore, I love listening to pop music when I'm in a good or perky mood. Following the current charts is not exactly my thing, but I am aware of some current hits. But it's the songs from my teenage years that I enjoy most, c.a pre-2010s. That's why some of the tracks on this post won't be the latest thing in pop music, so don't expect too much.

Usually 3 songs by one artist is the amount I can take. I think what I dislike most about pop music (you know, aside from everything else..) is that 99.9% of the song is dedicated to vocals, and it's just plain boring.

1. Demi Lovato - Cool For The Summer

I think many people, especially girls, can identify with Demi Lovato - her voice is amazing and for a change she looks like a real human being. Seriously, her body is perfect! And this song is an example how she tries to empower girls to be strong, independent and sexually confident. I think this song is sexy and talks about sexual fluidity in a very intimate yet fun way. I also think the composition is great, the climax (pun intended) in the song gave me chills and you can totally hear some 80s influences there with how the drums sound. I also recommend checking out this live version of Cool For The Summer - fucking a, she has a band on stage (that drummer though!), doesn't sing with playback, it's a great performance! Body Say is also quite the sex song....

2. M.I.A - Bad Girls

This is another example of a badass female pop (hip hop?) artist. I haven't heard many songs by M.I.A aside from Paper Planes but when I stumbled across this I loved it instantly. I am a sucker for middle eastern melodies in hip hop music, that's the only way I can tolerate this genre in the first place. I love M.I.A's voice a lot and I loved the video too, even though I am completely oblivious to why people in traditional muslim attire need to drift in second rate cars... it all kind of resembled one of those "people are awesome" videos. Unfortunately I was reminded of this number and it got me concerned. Maybe I don't really "get it" lol, but I still love the video and the song.

3. Odie - Catch Up

The only male entry on the list hehe.  I don't know how much this song is actually popular, I heard it in a black girl's makeup tutorial and had to know who the artist was. A lot of the elements of the song remind me of trip hop, which is a great genre. I love the singer's voice and the lyrics of this song are very realistic yet poetic at the same time. I was really happy to find this song, if you know anything similar let me know!

4. Rihanna - Man Down

Here we go down memory lane. I love Rihanna, I love most of her hits despite surviving the Umbrella epidemic with difficulty. I think Rihanna really made sense to me when she did a reggae song. Even Boris loved this song, and we both would die for Rihanna to make a full reggage album, omg that would be amazing!!!

5. Britney Spears - Slumber Party

Saved the best for last. I don't think it will surprise you that I grew up with Britney and looked up to her when I was a kid (and then Christina Aguilera came along with her Dirrty video and things changed...), but what will surprise you is that I owned a copy of Britney's book Heart To Heart as a kid as well.
I think we can all agree that Britney has been in a rut the past years. Her videos were not inspiring and she looked tired. I definitely agreed with most fans after seeing this video that she looks amazing again, you can really see the fire in her eyes in the video and the song is really good, sexy and has a "feel good" vibe to it. Britney at her finest, watching this video makes me feel great!

I do love me some Melanie Martinez and early Lady Gaga here and there, but let's save it for the next list.
Do you like some of the songs on here? Bet you love pop music too, I know you.


9 December 2016

Video Post: I do the Accent Tag!

Told you I had a video planned. Now you can hear me talk! Are you scared for the writing charm of my blog persona to be broken? I know I am...

But this is something I could never describe in words, and for a change here's a video idea that I actually wanted to make for a very, very long time.

Despite making 2 takes of this I really tried to make the video as authentic as possible and filmed right after I came back home from uni, it was really spontaneous, I actually wanted to film on saturday. Thus I still have my everyday makeup, clothes and hair on. No uber gothiness for the camera, just some lipstick reapplied.

So enjoy this low-fi Windows Movie Maker video attempt. I wish my laptop could run legitimate video editing programs, but hell no...

What do you think? Do you have an accent? Do you have any suggestions for future videos, for the next time I'll have the apartment to myself with 4 hours for filming and editing to spare?


4 December 2016

Now What?

A question from me to you, now that I'm concluding a rather content lacking year, I would like to hear some feedback from you about this blog. What do you want to read/ see here? Which posts do you like best, and which least?

Bane has recently wrote about how Blogger is declining in popularity next to other platforms such as Youtube/ Instagram/ Tumblr, and I can only agree with that. I find that there are few alternative bloggers than there were before; people aren't into reading that much, they're into watching videos or looking at outfit pictures and if they really want to read an article, they'll go to a specific website.
That's something I've been experiencing as a blogger and as a consumer online.

Aside from that, I feel the content of this bog has long since deteriorated and I feel I can do better than that.
I find it really hard to dedicate this blog to something specific. What started out as an alternative lifestyle/ fashion blog now has turned into rant posts about the gothic subculture (well deserved, if you ask me), random tag and favorites posts and music geekery galore. These are just a few things I like to blog about, and if I restrict myself just to one category I will not enjoy blogging that much. Needless to say I find it hard to provide interesting content in any of the mentioned categories consistently.
Furthermore, dedicating a single blog to each one of these themes is way too time consuming for me, and we all know how good I am in keeping these miniature-blogs alive. I also don't want to resign from Deus Ex Machina because it's my little "my years as a 20-something biography" online, a place that is far too precious for me to just let go of.
Which means changing a platform would be as hard. I have ideas for some youtube videos, but I will become a youtube vlogger over my dead body, not to mention I don't have the time and technology for it.

So I want to know from you - what would you like to see here, what content you think doesn't fit the blog anymore? Any other ideas are welcomed!!!

Smokey / What Can I Do?