Friday, January 31, 2014

converge - jane doe

As I sit here and listen to Jane Doe on Spotify, it just occurred to me that since I last was interested in a new Converge album, they have put out two. I think you could have called me a Converge fan throughout high school and college. Hell, even into my mid-twenties, and still now. Just not an updated fan.

They've got a lot of highly enjoyable songs. A lot. But, aside from Jane Doe, I wouldn't say any of their albums are truly ten out of ten stars. Maybe I'm an asshole (I am), maybe I don't fully appreciate the whole of their art (I don't), or maybe it's a combination of that and other factors.

I'm not going to sit here and sell you on why many of the songs on one album are better than many of the songs on another album. Or even try to get you to listen to Converge; if abrasive music is your thing, you're probably already familiar. But I am going to share a few thoughts with you about Converge and Jane Doe.

It's interesting to hear how their sound evolved from somewhat typical 90's chaotic metalcore beginnings to almost 90's screamo influenced 90's chaotic metalcore, ha. Probably a large chunk of that evolution is due to their guitarist, Kurt Ballou. He's a tall dude, and plays his guitar like he owns the thing; you can hear his technical improvement and ambition throughout the band's career. He's also a very talented record producer, owning a recording studio.

Then there's the singer, and leader of the band, Jacob Bannon, best described as an artist. Usually when I think of the term "artist", I think of a super douchey loser that thinks their "art" is profound. But Bannon's art is profound, for what it is. The metalcore scene explosion from the mid-90s to mid-aughts is, in many ways, a foundation of modern "musical/underground" art/creativity reflected in the mainstream - look at all the skulls and hearts and all-over print t-shirts; that's him, brah. His creativity literally influenced a generation, and an industry.

He apparently oversees the entire aesthetic of the band, and he has, for lack of better words, branded the band into something meaningful, or worthwhile. While many might question the necessity of existence of another band that screams a lot, it's clear much thought has been put into the idea of Converge.

While I may not find Converge to be life changing, the band is doing something highly artistic, and is presenting their art as a cohesive, awesome package - from the music, to the design of albums, to posters, to merch, to a great live show. Dude even owns a record label with a track record of awesome. (piqued curiosity: with a successful underground band, very prolific and varied art production, record label ownership, and additional endeavors, I wonder if he is rolling in the dough.)

The first time I heard Jane Doe, I was listening and hoping to find the album's The Saddest Day. No luck, but that's totally OK. Concubine kicked off the proceedings and those initial distorted notes really set the tone for me, and how I would receive the album going forward. That initial first impression has lasted in the thirteen years since; it always hits me the same exact way.

This is getting kind of long so I will spare my thoughts on their other albums, though what I've heard from the newest two has been good.

Jane Doe is a 10/10 album. Universally acclaimed, it captures rage, despair, fear, darkness, everything. And here it comes, one of "those" statements: Simply, if you don't appreciate the album, you are incapable of appreciating music and art. Please note that statement is coming from a totally uncultured rube.


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