Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jukebox: Freshkills - Positive Vibes

I absolutely despise sharing my thoughts on punk music.  This is because when I do share these thoughts, I sound like an ignorant "get off my lawn" old man, an old man who is so out of touch with the real world that he has to create his own alternate world where everything that is wrong with music boils down to his own ignorant and fabricated fact that punk rock isn't living up to his expectations.  Even though I have been disappointed by the genre's best album for the last seven years, I hate expressing this disappointment because I never want to become the "get off my lawn" old guy when I am just 21 years old, even if it is just about one genre of music.

So instead of pointing out why I dislike just about every "groundbreaking" punk release of the last seven years, I will just give you some reasons why Freshkills' "Positive Vibes" gives me hope for the future of the genre and sounds like it has the potential to be the ultimate punk song.  The first important point is how efficient the instrumentation on "Positive Vibes" is, even though the instrumentation is not particularly mind-blowing.  The instrumentation on "Positive Vibes" doesn't break any ground or blow any minds, but it is a great rehash of every punk sound you love: the song starts out with an overly loud combination of a two-chord riff and some "danceable" drumming, that combination is slowed down in the first verse to emphasize the harsh yet jazzy vocals of the lead singer, and the chorus features the perfect transition from the somewhat soft instrumentation that took place in the first verse with that "danceable" and overly aggressive start to the song and even adds a few other instruments in the background.  Just based of its instrumentation "Positive Vibes" is everything you used to love about punk: mindless aggression for the sake of mindless aggression, smooth transition between soft verses and loud choruses, and simple sounds being used in the most creative ways possible.  Even though "Positive Vibes" is simple instrumentally it is also a combination of Clash like creativity, Pixie like proficiency, and Ramone like rebellion, and because of this is a great three minute and thirty second rehashing of everything we loved about punk rock, at least instrumentally.

Another reason why "Positive Vibes" could be the ultimate punk rock song is because of the lead singer's vocal performance throughout the song.  Zachary Lipez's voice is an almost monotone half scream that sounds jazzy yet joking, chilling yet comforting, and "rock starish" yet relatable.  Lipez has the unique voice, the kind of voice that gives him the freedom to say whatever the hell he wants because you know it is coming from an actual person and not just some slimy poet.  Lipez's voice is one that places personality over his poetry and because of this you get the sense that you are actually involved in the punk rock rebellion that defines the Freshkills' music.  That means instead of "Positive Vibes" just being a three minute and thirty second rant, it is a three minute and thirty second invitation to reclaim our youth.  Lipez's vocals invite us to live the punk rock lifestyle of unnecessary and youthful rebellion for at least all of "Positive Vibes," and this openness is one of the reasons we can consider "Positive Vibes" the ultimate punk rock song.

The final reason you should love "Positive Vibes" is its brilliantly witty and sarcastic lyrics.  The lyrics on "Positive Vibes" are rebellious for the sake of being rebellious, angry for the sake of being angry, and ironic for the sake of being ironic, yet because of Lipez's lyrics they still sound incredible well thought out and personal.  Instead of promoting the normal punk rock rebellion, Lipez writes a brilliantly self-aware song that promotes a different kind of rebellion.  In "Positive Vibes" chorus, Lipez sings: "Oh these positive vibes are killin' me/I don't want to have fun/I've had fun before, it sucks/I want to lie in the dark all day/with you/with you."  The lyrics sound the exact opposite of what punk rock lyrics should be, but really they are the ultimate punk lyrics: Lipez's lyrics are the definition of being rebellious in even the best times, they are the perfect example of the sarcastic and apathetic "f--- you" attitude that used to define punk songwriting, and they are not emotional for the sake of being emotional.  Lipez's lyrics are borderline genius because even when they seem to be making a mockery of what "punk lyrics" are supposed to be, they end up being the ultimate punk lyrics and they separate "Positive Vibes" from just about any punk rock song out today.

"Positive Vibes" is not only the ultimate punk rock song, but it is an interesting "fountain of youth" type of experience.  The instrumentation, vocals, and lyrics on this song are not only incredibly efficient, but they allow you to relive the youth you once so cherished.  So while "Positive Vibes" is an incredible song, it is a song that allows people like me to feel like I have completely change my life for at least a few minutes.  For at least a few minutes, I feel like I am the kid speeding through the neighborhood instead of the only man telling him to slow down while taking his insulin.  The fact that one song could do that is borderline fascinating, but so is just about everything about "Positive Vibes."

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