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Under the Scalpel 12.10.09: Orianthi, Katatonia, Lee Harvey Osmond, NOFX

December 10, 2009 | Posted by Mark Ingoldsby

“Under the Scalpel: Dissecting Pop Culture One Song at a Time” is a weekly column written by Mark Ingoldsby, songwriter and guitarist for the hard rock band A Simple Complex. Follow the band on Twitter during our hibernation for new recordings, wild photos, and entertaining quotes from our many wild interviews.

Orianthi – According To You
It Ain’t Too Much For Her To Jam

Reaching the top 10 on Australia’s Top 50 Singles Chart is going to have to be an acceptable consolation prize for the Australian guitar virtuoso Orianthi. She was only a few weeks away from performing with Michael Jackson in front of 20,000 people for 50 shows for his upcoming, sold-out This Is It concert marathon.

“[Jackson] saw some of my YouTube videos and he saw me [perform] at the Grammy Awards,” Orianthi told 411Mania’s Michael Melchor. “He actually reached out to me through MySpace. I was freaking out at that point like, ‘Are you serious?'”

After performing at her audition, Jackson got off the couch and asked her to play a guitar solo while quickly leading her around the stage at a fast pace. When she was finished playing, he hired her on the spot.

Then tragedy struck. Less then three weeks before the first scheduled performance, Jackson dropped dead. Event canceled. Beat it.

“It was a huge shock for all of us. Our hearts just sank,” Orianthi said of Jackson’s death. “We all went to the Staples Centre (for rehearsals) and everything was being pulled down… Everyone was crying.”

But Orianthi has never been one to dwell on the past. Her philosophy is “I just try to keep moving forward.” With the release of her sophomore album, she hopes to take what she learned from the experience and use it to get other girls to pick up a guitar – and play it well.

“I aim to inspire a bunch of female guitar players to get out there and take it seriously and never give up,” Orianthi shared with the LA Times. “I’ve seen some female players, and they get up there and play an A chord and leave… and it’s not a good representation. You can take it seriously and love it as much as a guy loves it, not just to get up there and pose.”

Orianthi describes her new album Believe as “rock-pop with an 80’s vibe.” Its lead single “According To You” embodies that description perfectly. With its explosive, mainstream-yet-ballsy (pardon the expression) sound reminiscent of Katy Perry’s “Waking Up In Vegas,” “According” sounds like a Go Go’s song with Avril Lavigne on lead vocals… and Joe Satriani on lead guitar.

One thing that sets Orianthi apart from today’s girls who (claim to) rock is that she can not only play the guitar and write a lot of her own music, but she can also shred like nobody’s business. In “According,” she lets it rip with wild abandon, adding cool licks throughout the song and delivering a solo that makes me want for my old Van Halen, Krokus and Ratt records.

“According” does have a couple quiet moments where Orianthi channels Lisa Loeb’s I’m-going-to-set-you-straight-boy attitude found in her hit “Stay (I Missed You).” Incidentally, the lyrics to “According” have a similar vibe to “Stay” as well.

Orianthi starts the song off by reminding her boyfriend of the many derogatory statements he’s made about her. Then she compares those opinions with a different guy’s sentiments – the one waiting in the wings, ready to steal her away.

“According to you, I’m stupid, I’m useless,
I can’t do anything right,
According to you, I’m difficult, hard to please,
Forever changing my mind…
But according to him, I’m beautiful, incredible,
He can’t get me out of his head.
According to him, I’m funny, irresistible,
Everything he ever wanted.
Everything is opposite, I don’t feel like stopping it,
So baby tell me what I got to lose,
He’s into me for everything I’m not, according to you.”

The lyrics, which were written by Steve Diamond (Lonestar, Faith Hill, Miley Cyrus) and Andrew Frampton (Natasha Bedingfield, Kylie Minogue, Kris Allen), are simplistic and obviously targeted to the bubble-gum/teenager audience. But the music was produced by Howard Benson (POD, Flyleaf, Papa Roach) who has preserved Orianthi’s ability to rock hard and not sound too Hannah Montana. (Yeah, that’s right. I turned her into an adjective).

“According” is a solid pop-rock song – a tad elementary and bubbly for my tastes – but still worth adding to your playlist if you dig chick-rock… with a side order of fantastic shredding by a pretty young thing being hailed as “the female Slash.”

Rating: **** (4 out of 5)
If You Like: Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson (rock songs), Lita Ford, Miley Cyrus (rock songs), Paramore, Pink (rock songs)

Note: If you live in the Big Apple and want to see Orianthi perform for free and sign autographs, she’s doing so at the Best Buy in New York (2 Union Square East). It’s happening October 10th. THAT’S TODAY! HURRY!

Hat Trick: Three quickies for the man on the go!

Katatonia – Forsaker

I discovered Katatonia in 1999 on Century Media’s sampler Identity Five. Their song “Deadhouse” instantly mesmerized me, and so does each song I’ve heard of theirs since. The best way to describe the band is mellow metal. I know that sounds odd – it’s a bit of an oxymoron (like the name A Simple Complex) – but it is absolutely true. Lead vocalist Jonas Renske haunts “Forsaker” with his trademark melancholy harmonies as he delivers a premonition of catastrophe. The band creates a dark soundtrack befitting of doom, destruction, and malevolence by mixing eerie melody with thundering metal guitar and percussion.

“Hand of a leader…
Position is a drug,
The great end is sweeping in,
The dark will rise,
Abandon your freedom,
Give up the right to find the true self,
Forsake your own reasons,
Forsaker.”

I wasn’t able to determine what this song is about. But I detect a theme of politics and holocaust in its twelve chilling lines. “Forsaker” is an instant goth metal classic that, like most Katatonia songs, will have you wondering if you should be headbanging wildly or swaying quietly. So go sit in a dark room, light a single candle, crank this song up, and envision the destruction of all mankind. Happy nightmares!

Rating: ***** (5 out of 5)
If You Like: ?

Lee Harvey Osmond – Cuckoo’s Nest

No, Marie Osmond did not have a child who intends to kill the President. Lee Harvey Osmond is the pseudonym for Canadian musician Tom Wilson in his latest project. LHO is a band that mixes elements of blues, folk, rock, and jazz. The result is a cool, laid-back sound that Wilson calls “acid folk.” His deep, expressive voice reminds me of Lou Reed and Johnny Cash as he speak-sings this song’s bleak lyrics, which are presumably inspired by the film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Occasional stabs and swells from a sassy brass section give the song a sultry vibe that could easily inspire freeform, provocative dancing. But its subdued, minimalist percussion keeps the song from getting tawdry. Be sure to check it out.

Rating: **** (4 out of 5)
If You Like: Cowboy Junkies, Johnny Cash, Lou Reed, Marc Cohn (selected tracks), Tom Waits

NOFX – Creeping Out Sara

In “Creeping Out Sara,” NOFX lead vocalist Fat Mike tells us that after asking a “cute fair skinned brunette” backstage at a festival in Germany if she wanted to have a beer, the girl turned out to be Sara Quin of the Canadian indie rock band Tegan And Sara. After she told him she is “fully lesbian,” Mike then decided to start being a dickhead. He told Sara he was a fan of her music, but when asked which song is his favorite, he admitted he had “never actually heard them.” Then he asked “if she knew of anyone who was selling pills or blow?” He really let his true colors shine next when he asked her if she’d ever been in a threesome with her own sister, and if she thinks strap-ons are “groovy.” What an ass. Fortunately Tegan, who Mike describes as “the cooler one” of the twin sisters, has a thick skin. In response to this song, she tweeted “nofx + t/s = lots of email/texts/blogs/phone calls. i think punk in drublic (NOFX’s 1994 album) is a great record. we r lesbians. sara was creeped. i AM cooler.” Some might call this kind of stunt funny. I’d call it harassment. Fuck him. Fuck his band. And fuck this stupid song. Deleted.

Rating: * (1 out of 5)
If You Like: Blink 182 (sillier songs), Bloodhound Gang (punk rock songs), Nerf Herder

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