Friday, March 2, 2018

A Ride

Because I'm so fickle I've struggled immensely with the question "what is your favorite band?" I've listened to so many genres and bands over the years that I've never been able to pick just one. Instead what I have is a bunch of artists I really like that (I think) are really good at what they do. She Wants Revenge is one of them.


My experience as a listener/fan of this band goes all the way back to my middle school days. She Wants Revenge is a darkwave duo from California consisting of Justin Warfield and Adam Bravin. The duo first met in the late 80's and bonded over their interest in hip hop. They wouldn't form SWR for another decade and a half, and would instead take interesting routes to it. In a lot of ways they were the perfect band for me because the two members don't just stick to one sound/genre. Although She Wants Revenge just happens to be their project when they try their hand at the post-punk/new wave sound, the two members have made other works (usually solo) that doesn't sound a thing like it. Even with SWR both Warfield and Bravin have switched up their sounds a lot. You'll see what I mean shortly.

SWR's more notable songs will probably remind you of bands like The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees or Depeche Mode. Like sort of dark but with a little bit of an electronica/dance edge to them. You can also hear some hip hop influence if you listen hard enough. So I figure I'd do a little "tribute" (I use that word lightly because I could never really do the duo the justice they deserve). Some had a problem with the risks they took, I enjoyed the ride and wanted to see the duo tackle new things. They did, and continue to do so today.


Artist: She Wants Revenge
Song: These Things

We'll start with the first SWR song I ever heard, These Things. It's one of many highlights off of their debut album She Wants Revenge. A theme you hear a lot with SWR is lust, attraction and desire. How it can feel exciting, and how it can feel scary. These Things is no exception.

The standout lyric from the song for me is "this is the time of your life but you just can't tell". What that means in the context of the song is up for debate (depends on whether you think the song itself is about adultery or a one night stand or something else).

Next I think we'll rewind a bit back to before the two had formed SWR. Strap in, we're going all the way back to the 90's.


Artist: Justin Warfield
Song: K Sera Sera

So here's a song from Justin Warfield's (the lead singer of She Wants Revenge) solo LP from 1993. If you're hankering for some songs with a seriously good early 90's west coast vibe then this album is for you. This isn't anything you'd hear from the likes of N.W.A or DJ Quik or Compton's Most Wanted, instead it gives more of a vibe you'd hear from acts like Souls or Mischief or The Pharcyde and if you're a Bay Area person like Fuji, then you'll know what I mean. And yes, he does sound like Q-Tip. I'd analyze the lyrics if I wasn't busy being caught up in how tight this album is. If you're a hip hop head, check it out.


Artist: One Inch Punch
Song: Take It In Stride

I really wanted to go with a song from Justin Warfield's psychedelic rock project, The Justin Warfield Supernaut, but for some reason all of the songs have been taken down or made private on YouTube. The album's not even up on iTunes anymore. So instead here is a song from the only album released by another one of Warfield's bands, One Inch Punch. Their only release, Tao Of The One Inch Punch, was released back in 1996 and it's experimental as heck. I've seen a lot of genre labels attached to them but the best I can describe their sound is if you occasionally added rapping to grunge music. Although this song in particular is one of their more grunge songs. In a lot of ways I can hear the She Wants Revenge vibe that's to come in the years following. The album as a whole is pretty good. Also the only two members of the group (Warfield and Gianni Garofolo) have since reunited for Warfield's newest band which you'll hear shortly.


Artist: Saukrates (Featuring Self Scientific & E-Rule)
Song: Wonderful World

This is a very dope posse cut of some of underground hip hop's finest. Adam Braven (aka DJ Adam 12) produced this track and it was on one of the mixtapes he hosted back in the early 90's.


Artist: Bomb the Bass
Song: Bug Powder Dust (Featuring Justin Warfield)

This track is by British producer Tim Simenon, aka Bomb the Bass. Warfield is featured on it and raps on a very high powered beat provided by BtB and provides non-stop references. From #woke 1984 analogies to obscure British TV shows. This didn't really do anything in America but it's remembered in a lot of British hip hop circles as a forgotten classic. Not really sure what more I can add except that there are a lot of remixes of it out there.


Artist: Crazy Town
Song: Think Fast (Demo)

Crazy Town is known nowadays as that nu metal band that sang about butterflies but in the 90's they were a LA hip hop group called the Brimstone Sluggers. Adam Bravin was a part of that lineup but left the band before they rebranded as Crazy Town. Bravin was replaced by the late DJ AM. I couldn't find any songs from the Brimstone Sluggers era of the band so the best I could come up with was this demo cut of one of CT's songs off of their debut album. I'm not sure if Bravin had a hand in making this track, but either way I personally like this demo better than the album version the world eventually got. You could say the same for a lot of CT's demo's actually.

I'm pretty sure I'm leaving out a lot of stuff that both Warfield and Bravin did before SWR but I kind of want to fast forward to the mid-2000's now and get back to their SWR era.


Artist: She Wants Revenge
Song: Tear You Apart

Okay here we go, She Wants Revenge's best known song and honestly one of their better songs. Tear You Apart is again about infatuation. Specifically Justin tells us the story of a boy and a girl. The boy has strong sexual urges for the girl and wants to "tear her apart" all the while these urges and feelings are actually tearing him apart. Now a little crush has turned into something else and well, the song ends with the guy telling us he wants to tell the girl he wants that he wants to fucking tear her apart. In spite of how "dark" this song sounds I love it, it's twisted and yet it's got one of the most eargasmic basslines ever. From what I've heard this song has managed to pop up in horror themed shows and movies every now and then, most notably when it was used during an orgy scene that featured Lady Gaga (who is reportedly a SWR fan too) in American Horror Story.


Artist: t.A.T.u.
Song: Cosmos (She Wants Revenge Remix)

She Wants Revenge did a few remixes here and there over the years. Here they add a little bit of that LA magic onto the two Russian girls who were big deals in the early 2000's. Compared to the original, this song is a lot more dance club oriented (duh) and while I like both, I'd give this remix the advantage. Then again I'm biased. Also, let it be known that I do like t.A.T.u.'s music. They had the catchy hooks and the tight production work to make some really nice pop music for a long time.


Artist: Julien K
Song: Kick The Bass (She Wants Revenge Remix)

Another remix I wanted to add mainly to talk about original band. Julien-K is an electronica project by Amir Derakh and Ryan Shuck, both of whom are known for being part of another California based rock band called Orgy. The two were also part of a band called Dead By Sunrise which was started by Linkin Park frontman, Chester Bennington. A band I kind of wish I knew about earlier TBH, I started listening to them after the unfortunate news of Bennington's passing hit and I personally like a lot of their stuff. Crawl Back In is my favorite song by DBS for the record. As for Julien K, it's an okay band to check out if you're into post punk with electronica infused in it. Personally Cruel Daze of Summer is what I'd consider to be my favorite Julien K song.


Artist: She Wants Revenge
Song: Love My Way

Yep, a cover of the Psychedelic Furs' classic Love My Way. BTW, just know that this is not an official music video but a fan project by the uploader. I can't find the song itself with a static image so this'll have to do. The Furs are one of the many bands that SWR considers an influence (big shock right?) and have given one of the Furs' more notable songs a "darker" sound. It's unique because their vocals and the overall tone of the song creates an interesting contrast with the relatively lighter sounding high notes on the original that were played by the marimba. Normally I don't care for covers (especially when I love the original song as much as I love Love My Way) but I thought SWR did a good job here. You can't go wrong with most renditions of that instrumental. The lyrics of the song have always been kind of a puzzle but for me I've always thought of it as love between two people of the same gender. Although you could also argue that it's reckless love fueled by pure desire and passion.


Artist: She Wants Revenge
Song: It's Just Begun

This is my favorite song off of SWR's second album This Is Forever. The song itself is about a couple who meet at a bar/club and their encounter that (maybe?) leads to a one night stand. Question is if that one night stand is only the beginning of something else. No, no it's not.


Artist: Timabaland
Song: Time (Featuring She Wants Revenge)

Timbaland is one of the greatest hip hop producers of all time and he delivers what I consider to be my favorite instrumental of all time here. Seriously, I love it. The guitar riff, the aura that the song is wrapped in, the claps. As far as vocals go I think Justin and Adam drove that chorus right out of the park with their part, I love it. Timbaland's verses are primarily about a female stalker and the vibe makes it seem like maybe she wants to kill him, although the chorus suggests that he was either abusive or neglectful before she snapped. Two of my favorite acts come together to deliver one of my favorite songs ever.


Artist: She Wants Revenge
Song: Save Your Soul

Save Your Soul is the title track off of SWR's EP, Save Your Soul. The EP as a whole isn't too dissimilar to what the duo released before. This song in particular is about a guy who confronts his significant other after they come home pretty late. He's got his suspicions that the other person is having an affair with someone else.


Artist: She Wants Revenge
Song: Your Love

SWR's Up and Down EP is where they really tapped into their electronic sound. At the time I think some people were a bit thrown off by a band that made Tear You Apart making something like this, but I thought it was a neat little experiment. Neither Warfield or Bravin have a track record of staying with one sound for extended periods of time, they will try all sorts of unique things and that's what I like most about them TBH.


Artist: She Wants Revenge
Song: Suck It Up

To date Valleyheart is SWR's latest album. They make a return of sorts to their darkwave and guitar sound after the Up & Down EP. Suck It Up here is one of my favorites off of Valleyheart for how it sounds. Lyrically it's a breakup song where the guy doesn't take it too well and already knows that he's going to be a wreck for a while because the relationship didn't work out.



Artist: Justin Warfield
Song: My City Got Me Like...

Warfield released The Black Hesh Cult mixtape in 2013, (available on his official SoundCloud). It's meant to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his debut as Warfield returns to his hip hop roots and spits some fire. The track above is not from the mixtape (or at least it wasn't released with it), but I can't seem to embed the mixtape onto here so this'll have to do.



Artist: Dream Club
Song: To Play Us Out

Warfield's newest band is the Cali-based Dream Club. Dream Club is more of a psychedelic rock band who sort of reminds me of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Dream Club released their debut LP Dream Club in August of last year.


Artist: Love, Ecstasy and Terror
Song: Carousel

Here's a track from Adam Bravin's recent solo project Love, Ecstasy and Terror. As of this post the LoveXTerror camp has only released three songs, one of which was a demo only available on SoundCloud. Although based on their YouTube channel they have a lot of other tracks in the works (some from as far back as 2015). I love this Carousel track for the pretty nice buildup and the eerie tension it creates. If you liked this then you might like his more recent offering My Little Sin, released barely a year ago too.

Adam Bravin (Left) and Justin Warfield (Right)

After Valleyheart, SWR decided to go on an "indefinite hiatus" and the duo went their separate ways. Bravin went on to be President Barack Obama's personal DJ while Warfield would remain active doing a lot of production work and remixes. They did briefly reunite for a tour in 2016 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of their debut album. As of 2018 it sounds like SWR is back on hiatus because both men have busy lives to lead, but if you're in the LA area you can probably still catch the two since they do make live appearances at a lot of events and concerts.

Even if SWR never makes another new song or album, I do still enjoy the things they did make and release. The stuff the two made before they came together would've already made for interesting discographies but this just further adds to their story. I'm still looking forward to new things the two put out individually because I want to see where they go as they start to put SWR in the rearview mirror. An interesting band to the very end for sure. Definitely one of my favorites.

*sighs*, okay I know that you've been waiting this whole post for me to say it. Yes, they do sound like Joy Division. Happy?

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

6 comments:

  1. Alright. I thought I was up on music, but I suppose that's just my midwestern mind assuming I can keep up with the pace of the west and east coast's, where the real action is.
    I haven't heard of any of these songs until now.
    The lead singer of SWR reminds me of another vocalist from the 80s, but I can't place it right now. Maybe The Cure?
    Thanks for the post!

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    1. TBH I live on the East Coast and I don't know 80% of the bands people claim to listen to lol. All I know now is what I still have leftover from my experimental high school days lol.

      There definitely is a Cure vibe going on. There are so many influences for them that I think you can come up with a multiple array of potential singers they sound like and not have a wrong answer.

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  2. Having worked in alternative radio for five years, I'm a touch ashamed that I've never heard of SWR. Thank you for providing the excellent starter kit though - I'm especially digging These Things!

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    1. Well I'm glad I was able to introduce you to something new Tony :).

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  3. I had SWR's first album and played the hell out of it on my first iPod back in the day when I was traveling a ton for work. I haven't listened to them in a long time, though -- so perhaps tonight is the time to change that. Great post...perhaps them sounding like Joy Division is kind of why I like them.

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    1. I'd hesitate to call their debut their best, but I'll be honest and say that it does have the most gems (at least for me personally) compared to their other releases. But there are some nice tracks scattered everywhere else though.

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