This one came in as a request from one of my bat friends, Yatri. Now, let me start off by explaining the nature that is Yatz. He is wise - not just smart (though he's very intelligent). He's got a way of looking at things and discussing them with you that makes you angry and excited all at once. We don't argue - we discuss, and there's usually some really cool passion for whatever we're talking about. He asks good questions and doesn't judge if you don't know every detail.
That said, when Yatz and I start talking about music, my major passion in life, our discussions are incredible. When he tells me to give something new a chance, I do. Hence this post!
So, this band, The Tea Party, originates with Jeff Martin form Windsor, Ontario. He was influenced by the proto-punch and Motown sounds from across the Detroit River, as well as his blues-loving father. This band includes Stuart Chatwood and Jeff Burrows, and they are described as blending rock, "Middle Eastern, Celtic, and Mediterranean music."
Far out! Let's do this!
"Fire In The Head" is first up, and I'm a little taken aback right at the start. The guitar picking is intriguing from the opening notes, with a mysterious deep voice taking control as it moves in. There's a sweet creepy factor happening that's bone chilling. The different elements noted above are, in fact, all in the song, but you just sort of realize them piece by piece throughout. I can't put my finger on the total meld quite yet.
All right, there we go. "The Bazaar" has a much different sound than your in-American tracks. Here are the Middle Eastern influences, front and center on an electric guitar. It's sort of a wild combo of effects and sounds going on that I would have never expected to be done.
"Correspondences" is very long and very slow and very tough to stay awake to after such a long day as mine. It's a classing long, drawn-out rock song that you can imagine the musicians are just completely loosing themselves in, but I don't know that there's a regard here to what fans want. It's very hard for us, mentally, to sit through a song more than three minutes long, so just the idea of seven+ is very tough. Not impossible to enjoy, just not enticing enough to be willing at every moment.
Next up is "The Badger." Insert some witty remark about badgers here. The Celtic sound is afoot - those are distant pipe sounds if I'm not mistaken, at the beginning. The guitar picking that comes in to join them about a minute in it surprisingly beautiful, and the classical sound that it launches in to is completed unexpected. Where did THIS come from? This is absolutely gorgeous, and totally brings on a new respect for the band able to produce it. Here's an old live video of the song:
"Silence" is certainly anything but. We're back to a slightly twisted sounding vocal lead, and this time a very Indian-sounding rhythm throughout. The instrumentation in this can only be described in words as bazaar, but I don't mean that in the sense of weird. I literally mean that this should be the background music in a scene of a movie with a bazaar.
No lie, thought I was about to hear "Screaming Infidelities" at the start of "Sister Awake." Instead, we get a gentle sitar overcoming the strumming guitar with a low voice. It's the sound of a quiet opening, with a pick up about a minute and a half in. The dance gets crazy and hypnotic. The visions you could have while listening to this are so pretty; so cathartic. The, around 2:20, the drums kick in and the rock sound melds itself in. I'm totally confused by this sound and I am adoring every moment.
"Turn the Lamp Down Low" is a deep, more solemn song for the night. It definitely picks up around 2:45 with intensity. There's something so dark and hot and awesome about this - I love it. More please. Some kind of psychedelic rock is happening without being overly obvious about it. If I wasn't at work, I'd totally get my hippie dance on.
And we're back to something totally soft and sweet and sentimental sounding for "Shadows On The Mountainside." It's like if "Lord of the Rings" actually took on a folk sound. This is so incredibly quiet, I'm almost shocked. Sure, there's the deepness to it, creating an ominous feeling throughout, but it remains just on the edge of fascinating. Something weird and wonderful seems to be happening in this music.
"Drawing Down The Moon" brings on just a twinge more creepiness, as it really down feel like a sickening spiral downwards into darkness. I'd venture to say this is the darkest song on the album, but we till have three more tracks to prove otherwise. It's not bad, but it's nothing I'd be interested in getting farther in to. It's just a bit much to handle overall. Plus I'm working nights and it's not easy hearing tiring low much like this.
I'll be honest, I tuned out "Inanna" and I don't care. The bit my conscious seemed to catch played off as annoying and I just wasn't having it.
"Coming Home" seems to 'bring it home' with some rougher rock licks. Late nights at work suck for reviews as much as they rock (hey, when else am I going to have time? - A girl needs her sleep) because of exhaustion and distractions, this is no exception. Actually, I think I like the lyrics/story in this one a lot, or at least the bits I'm catching.
Okay, fully concentrating for this final song that's only… 14 minutes long!! Ah, there's a note - the full thing is: "Walk With Me (Contains Hidden Track "The Edges Of Twilight")." Makes more sense now. So technically, this second-to-last song is a slow build of electronic noise until the dark vocal sound and hard hitting drop. It doesn't really slow down from there for the remaining 6 minutes or so of the 7 minute long first song. The hidden track picks up somewhere around the 8/8:30 mark (I was busy trying to beat my family in Solitaire Blitz). The first bit is all spoke word about the Goddess drawing near, set to slow ominous metal guitar backing, and then it all goes silent again at about 10 minutes. At 12 minutes I'm uncomfortably still sitting in silence, alone in my office. 14 minutes! There's something! A quick little door slam and… that's it. Done.
Added to My Playlist:
- "The Badger"
- "Sister Awake"
- "Turn the Lamp Down Low"
Nice one Yatz, very nice one.
Spotify Listen Link: Volbeat – Live From Beyond Hell / Above Heaven
A request for this band came in over my main contact form. In thee kind of cases (because I feel the need to tell you my logic in these cases), I find the band on Spotify and listen to the first album I can find of theirs. In this case, we get a live album.
First off, Volbeat themselves. This is a Danish metal band, and the 'start-over' new project for leader Michael Poulsen after his band Dominus. He wanted a more traditional rock sound this time around. This was the result, and in this case there'll be a live spin on their 2010 release.
The crowd is already alive and ready as an epic "Intro" starts up full of strings. It launches almost immediately into "The Mirror And The Ripper," and I have to give credit where it's due - there is for sure an old school rock 'n roll, Elvis feel to the opening verse. It's damn impressive in this arena of music talent, and unexpected to say the least. I can't understand about half of it, especially when the chorus picks up, but the general sound is promising of something that may actually wind up enjoyable. Here's the opening song from the DVD:
"Maybellene I Hofteholder" is next up, and I realize, thankfully early, that I need to be fair - this is not a band singing in English, so of course I'm not going to be able to understand the words. That being said, despite the gibberish I'm getting an earful of, the song's really very good. The musical makeup overall is well constructed. The rhythm's perfect to bash your head to, with a seemingly good lyrical melody to actually get into.
Coming up next is "16 Dollars." Again, very old-school rock sound going on, yet with an interesting metal sound underlying it all. Oh shit, they're singing in English! That's fun. God, I could imagine the energy at this show just being incredible. Everyone's got this awesome rock beat to start dancing to, but with the excuse to go absolutely insane because it's a metal show.
"Heaven Nor Hell" launches up next, with a very steady lead in beat and a crowd already singing along. There's this odd element of Offspring I can't help but feel as it turns on, and then shifts into a more Blink 182 sound. Sorry, I know that makes next to know sense. The use of rock styles though is really odd and even odder - works. Maybe it's the instant movement I get into as it goes on, but this music is just fantastic. Every moment is sweet and unexpected from a genre band that clearly doesn't try to stay in the mould.
Then they launch into something that's clearly a crowd favorite, judging by the sound of the screams: "Who They Are." This one takes a much darker tone right from the start. The singing is actually even more fast paced, and the guitar is not showing any single moment of letting up. While it's not going to be up for one of my favorite songs on the album, it is much more fitting for the genre they were initially described in, so I suppose in some weird way it actually is more appropriate album material?
"Evelyn" is finally the stereotypical metal style song we've been looking for on the album. Don't get me wrong - loving the other music, but now I finally believe the bio write up. Low throated screaming for the verses, great intense singing for the choruses. It all makes sense now, sort of.
Next one starts like a folk song to some extent, with the same throaty singing as before - think Johnny Cash combined with KoRn. "Sad Man's Tongue" is sort of what you get. Seriously the melody sounds like an old Cash song, I can't get over humming the real thing in my head. If there was any sort of influence from the cowboy himself, I wouldn't be surprised, and remain truly impressed with just how deep these rock roots and influences go.
"7 Shots" is, again, dark. There's a weird sort of hope in the guitar, but all hell breaks loose just before the one minute mark, with the drums taking off on this awesome rampage and the guitar struggling to do its own thing. The sound works. The drums maintain that though underneath of a shredding electric guitar, and then the voice takes over. Okay, I'm giving you a play-by-play on a song, and that's sort of weird, but that's about all I've got for the movements in this one.
I'm now attempting to listen to the remainder of this album while at work. Let's see how this goes and how many weird looks I wind up getting. First up in the work portion of this listening session is "Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza." Eh, my boss just walked back in. Stand by. Okay, my PA's back. Boss is gone. I feel better about this crazy deep "singing" going on while I work. I have no idea what's going on here lyrically, but I'm not sure if it's due to the style or the words being in another language. Is this what people sound like when they swim in a pool of booze? Maybe that's the root of the title?
"A Warrior's Call" is apparently "fuck, fuck, fuck" - or at least, that's the only line in this whole thing I fully understand. I think the first portion of this album was, while outside of the genre sound, much more along the lines of rock 'n roll the way the singer intended. The rest is more metal. Oh shit, wait, maybe that line was "fight, fight fight." That would make more sense now, wouldn't it?
Did an entirely different singer take lead for this half of the album? "The Garden's Tale" keeps up this same deep throated singing sound, but that's not what was going on earlier. I don't hate it, as the melody on this one is a little clearly and more pleasant than it has been the past few, it's just disorienting when you have it in your head that they'll be screaming otherwise. Whatevs, right? Just taking what we can get here. Also, another song seems to be starting up around the five minute mark, or at least some little interlude, or maybe a continuation. It's got the same slight marching beat as the song did at the start… and there's the utter chaos breakdown - sweet.
"Fallen" moves on further, clearly giving the same good dance rhythm, but heavier on the voice. Like I said, second half of the album is just a little rougher than that first half. More typical, less interesting from the genre standpoint, but not bad at all.
Okay, so "Thanks" gives a little more of the best of both worlds. The atmosphere is fun, there's maybe some lines about the people jumping around, and the melody is fast paced but danceable. Overall, a really cool and interesting method of throwing everything they stand for together into one track. I like it. Just a cool, good time, and you if you close your eyes, you can see the insanely fun mosh pit going at it in your mind.
"The Human Instrument" basically seems to get the crowd singing along, er, yelling I suppose. The beat on this one is awesome. It's steady and the head banging has got to be at its best here. Granted, the other language mixed in makes it sound like lots of gibberish, silly little words, but whatever - this crowd seems to get what's going on, and that's what important for the time being. Us here in English-ville can just imagine it and trying to enjoy it for music and insanity's sake.
In an… um… interesting titling, we get "Angelfuck." (Sorry mom, just typing the name of the song.) This one is led in by a bunch of talking to the audience - I think there's something about it being a cover, but I might be wrong. The just of it is a metal song gone haywire. Biggest thing I noticed was that this one was recorded at a different venue - at the House of Blues in Anaheim.
You can sort of hear the differences in venues, this one sounding much smaller, for "Still Counting." Seems like he's calling himself an asshole and counting the rest of them in the room, noticing he's certainly not alone. Sort of a good ol' rock song with some instrumental craziness in-between verses. I sort of like it, I think, even though I may not be listening closely enough to get the whole thing. Eh, give me a break - we just wrapped and I may not be focused entirely.
"I Only Wanna Be With You" is another cover, and the FINAL SONG ON THE ALBUM!!! Heh. In the screaming mood for one reason or another. Really curious to know if this is what I think it is… and if I'm not mistaken, it's a really awesome version of what I think it is. What a freaking awesome way to end this thing!!
Added to My Playlist:
- "Maybellene I Hofteholder"
- "16 Dollars"
- "Heaven Nor Hell"
- "I Only Wanna Be With You"
Can we take a second to realize the volume of songs I added to my playlist from this album for a moment? I mean, it's not Yellowcard or Van Morrison album listing, but for this genre and situation, it's a rarity for me to be this interested in this many songs. Says something, in my opinion. And hell, this is my blog, so my opinion matters.
By request of one of the people I respect more than almost anyone else in the world, my high school drama teacher. And yes, I'm being completely serious.
So we know Mr. Hugh Laurie from his hit role as Dr. House on... "House." The guy who still amazes me in that he can go from British (his native accent) to American in no time. I know it's very ethnocentric of me to think that way, but it's really a cool skill! Of course, the man does it all - even performs the blues. There are collaborations here, as well as Laurie talking on the piano and guitar. It topped the blues charts here in the US, and peaked at #16 on Billbooard's 200. We were actually the last to get it - the album was released in France, Germany, and the UK a good 5 months before here!
Follow along on your own copy or Spotify with me and let's see what all the talk is about.
The immediate start off is Hugh's hands across the piano - and damn, he's been hiding this talent. "St. James Infirmary" isn't like the blues and jazz we've been hearing from these instrumental groups of late. It's is smoky and passion filled in a way only musicians can give justice to. It's not until the vocals kick in that the entire song takes a turn, and we're introduced to Mr. Laurie's crying voice, much like a muted trumpet. Again, this is something unexpected for someone who's only heard him on house, yet welcomed for its difference.
"You Don't Know My Mind" just seems so damn appropriate to this guy, for some odd reason. And looky there, he's got BGVs too. The beat's kind of great, and this time we've moved into more prominent use of guitar than the piano that we hear before. It's less elegant, but honest just as much in a different way.
Whoa, and all right, we take a very dark, deep turn for "Six Cold Feet." Good god. These kind of blues songs are tough - they are classic beyond all else, but give this incredible dragging feeling that can only be truly enjoyed in a live settings. It's just tough otherwise, as the whole thing just makes you need to put your head down and drown for a moment.
You get more of the same with even more horns for "Buddy Bolden's Blues." It's another dragging number that's getting harder to hear on a regular basis, but I do have a growing love for this man's voice. It's just got this rawness throughout the songs that is shockingly appealing.
"Battle of Jericho" re-defines what we've considered classic in this blog since our December start. This is a song we used to sing in Sunday School way back in the day, and many had before us. This is a real old Negro spiritual, and is based out of the Bible. Want to get more classic than that? Yeah, I think until I hit some of the old Gregorian chants on my Ancient World albums, we've about reached the pinnacle.
We're back to the blues and done with the spirituals for a few moments, with "After You've Gone." It's a pretty simple piano and bass song, and Dr. John is featured, with Hugh just letting it all go I suppose. It's a song of making them realize what they had when it's over, with an entirely classic sound.
Where he really lets go? "Swanee River." Just when you think it's going to be more of the same, the back picks up and we're thrown into an instrumental party of good times with all. They let loose and jam up until the end where it seems Hugh remembers he actually had a vocal part to this songs, sings it once more, and closes things out. You rock brother.
"The Whale Has Swallowed Me" has inklings of Jonah and the Whale all over it, as though this is his song from within, waiting for when the whale gets sick and lets him go. I may be saying that simply from the biblical allusions from earlier, and this could totally be about something else - like escape from hard times. But he, to each their own, right?
That glorious piano is back for "John Henry," which also features Irma Thomas. As harsh as some of the lyrics are (death, hammers, etc. - eh, it makes sense if you listen) - the voices are divine together. They flow brilliantly and make for a fantastic listen to a smoke little old folk song.
"Police Dog Blues" is simple - a man and his guitar singing of his nomadic life. The guitar plays its own part as his companion throughout, almost like a dog being our best friend as you go. Perfect campfire chill song, kind of lousy studio song late at night when you're laying around trying to find interesting things to say about an album. It's an easy one though - nice and easy.
The same can't totally be said for "Tipitina," a song that does bring, seemingly, the whole band on for the jam. Oh, and there he in on piano again. This is actually a cover from the 70s, hence the bit of funk involvement throughout the song. I could probably ignore every single vocal line in here (sorry Hugh) and be completely satisfied with this song on an instrumental leve alone. The horns provide this awesome time travel technique that just makes the entire thing whole. Here's a little background on the number:
"Winin' Boy Blues" takes on a little more light-hearted feel, if that's possible with blues songs. Don't deny him his chance to bitch about things going on, because that's who he is - there you go, message in one neat little package.
Seriously, the tone here does not mesh with any other time I've heard this guy's voice. It's driving me a little crazy, but I don't know if it's for the good or bad side of crazy. The song's only about a minute long, and based off of the old charleston chord progressions. It's a cute little filler number overall, right before we launch into the final few songs!
Duddeeeee Tom Jones. And Irma is back! This track's like a little gathering of the greats from this album and, obviously, a special guest, just to show off a bit. "Baby Please Make A Change" is not as upbeat as one (like me) might hope from such a compilation song, but it's a good and different one, utilizing strings and certainly giving Mr. Jones a whole new sound unlike anything I've ever heard before.
We end things out with the title track, "Let Them Talk." It's just this sweet lovely piano-based song, with the guitar taking care of the blues element so it's in line with the album's genre. It's beautiful and complete, and a prefect ending to this album. Excuse me while I drift off to love for a minute or so.Added To My Playlist:
Not the best cross-over into music I've heard from an actor, but really not a bad album at all. There's heart to the blue that's hard to always hit right, but he did a nice job of putting it into this one. It's just a lovely album as a whole, and a great venture into the blues.
- "You Don't Know My Mind"
- "John Henry"
- "Let Them Talk"
Set 'em up and knock 'em down - this one was a request from a little bit ago, as well as a Bonnaroo artist this yeah!
So Fitz is an American Soul group, and this is their debut album. There was a home-recorded EP beforehand, which got them onto an indi label to start with. The group came together after Michael Fitzpatrick's rough breakup and his need to release creatively and just as a general distraction. Piece built on over time in weird ways, such as inheriting a church organ from a neighbor. Apparently they melded so well together, they could have played a show right after their first rehearsal. This whole album wound up being recorded in a non-sound-proofed living room.Check it out on Spotify, or watch the videos provided - because there's a pretty decent quality one for each!And here's we go back to the 60's y'all! "Breakin' The Chains of Love" opens up the album I can't say I love it all around, but the sound is fantastic. There's a slight echo used on the main vocal to give a really interesting ambiance sound. The horns really do round out the band really well entertainment-wise. And, finally, the female backing voice gives this just-right funk and soul touch that makes the song's overall sound great. There's a little turn-off because of the older sound, but it's not necessarily a bad thing as you get into it.
"Dear Mr. President" continues on this sound that I only vaguely remember when learning about reverb in Rech Tech class in college. It almost does sound like a 60's protest song, maybe 70's. Bonnaroo could be interesting, given this Woodstock-esq sound they've got going on. It's got a call to action sound though, keeping it raw and relatable overall.
Title track time! "Pickin' Up The Pieces" starts using the flute in a much more prominent way, and now the hippie within me is in love. Flower children, unite in the field for a good dance about. The voices mesh together so well, remaining totally light and pretty enough to drift away to. And we now get the female voice with some solo work, which brings an element of back-and-forth to the song we didn't have. Sure, it's a song based in heartbreak, but it's about at least trying to move on as a person after it all.
"MoneyGrabber" hits with that harshness you have post-breakup, and I guess is what I would consider a darker 60's song. Oh, it's just a good kiss-off song. The reverb's getting to a little much, but you all know by now how i feel about vocal effects through machines. This one's probably one of the lesser-enjoyed Motown songs (and you know they existed). It's good to input onto an album, but not something you'd want to sing around all the time.
Anyone ever seen the movie Sweetwater, about the band? The one Amy Jo Johnson (who played the Pink Power Ranger in the original series) starred in? Sorry, this music's just taking me back to that feeling. "L.O.V." has so many elements that scream that era. Fitzpatrick said he wanted to make a Motown album, but this is a hippie one if I've ever heard it. The organ in there just makes you want to skip around in the fields. And the whole song is an anthem for love and kindness amongst each other. Throw up those peace signs!!
"News 4 U" has a very haunting sound, and I mean that because of the ghost-like sounds coming through my speakers right now. It's not a bad song, just a little over-done in some ways because of those recording effects. On one hand, it's a little too much. On the other hand, at least everything has a similar sound so it melds together a little more naturally. There's also this oddly cool live element given to the recording, probably because of that setup.
There's something completely familiar about "Don't Gotta Work it Out." I think it's in the chorus, where the singing out happens so significantly. I like it. This is one of those instances that the old-school charm of the music makes the most sense and is the most enjoyable. Their use of what I can only assume it today's technology to make a newer sound is wonderfully fun. The combo of horns and organ and maybe even some bells is just a really cool thing that I doubt you hear much now regularly played.
"Rich Girls" will hurt you, and poor girls will take your money. Or something like that. This is like a less-polished version of a Cee Lo song. Not that that's a bad thing, but it's just how it is. Apparently, you can't win with any of these girls. Let's keep in mind that this group was formed, and I'm sure the songs were written, in a time of heartache.
In a more light-hearted manner, but with a very real message, we get "Winds of Change." It's one of those songs that maybe you need to hear at just the right moment, as life is throwing it all at you at once. The song's lighter, but just so much more relatable than the rest in this bizarre way. I don't even know if it's the musical treatment to it, or maybe (much more likely) the lyrical content and mood - and need for that. Whatever it may be, the song's a good one.
The final song is "Tighter." It's probably got the most psychedelic feel to it out of any of the tracks. It's also a little more slowed down, providing a funkier mood in that softer kind of way. It's also probably the saddest song on the album of all, lamenting on what he probably did wrong throughout the relationship. Ah, poor guy.
Added to My Playlist:
What's funny is that I added almost every even-numbered track, with exception of the last pairing. It was a really cool album though, unlike anything I've heard outside of those 60's tracks. It felt like we had additional soundtrack songs for movies on the 60's and Woodstock, honestly. But this has been a lost form for a while now, and seeing a bad take a leap and do this the way they see fit is really cool.
- "Breakin' The Chains of Love"
- "Pickin' Up The Pieces"
- "Don't Gotta Work It Out"
- "Winds of Change"
So, this is sort of by request. I had a friend tell me there was new N.E.R.D. music out, but this is the latest album (not counting a Best Of album that was released last year). Regardless, when someone makes an artist suggestion, I try to come up with some way to appease them - so here's the 2010 release from N.E.R.D.!
While I've listened to a decent amount from N.E.R.D., I am humbly admitting that I did not know this was a full-on funk band. Sorry folks - I do remind you I'm no expert on the front page!
The album's meant to be the bands' 'alignment with the world today.' It's meant to be a time capsule of sorts on the state of the world today, so people in 10 years can... well, see how screwed up either they are or we were. It's an attempt at showing this era.
Follow along on Spotify. :)
"Party People" brings on an immediate bass and, well, party. Seriously, everything's about getting moving and spotting the one you'll be with for the night on the dance floor. And that beat and repetition doesn't stop throughout the entire song, which also features T.I. rapping about three-quarters of the way in. I'd say it's a boring dance-floor song that gets old eventually, but there are these little inserts that keep things interesting, and the dancers on their toes. And then there's the horns, which are subtle (odd for horns) but so kickin' and vital.
In a much lower bass, but still steady beat, we get the alluring "Hypnotize U." I'll admit, had no idea we were getting into this kind of lyrical content. I think in a lot of cases I probably would have turned this off by now. If you're listening past the lyrics though, there's kind of this weird cool low beat, almost sounding like electric drums sucking out at the end of the beat. It's hard to explain. I can almost imagine those weird "3D" screensavers with balls bouncing or popping or something.
A kind of slower, funky jam starts up for "Help Me." I definitely wouldn't call it a slow song at all, because that hi-top definitely keeps the whole thing moving. My early conclusion on this album is that it makes for an awesome hanging-out play, especially while, say, playing pool (the 5 people that get that may never read this). You catch a few lyrics from time to time that stick out, but otherwise, you just let it play and keep the room mood level.
"Victory" has a cute little 60's sound, but totally doesn't sound like it belongs in that era at all. Anyone understand me there at all? Eh, I don't want to, or know how to, explain it. Love the beat completely on this though, as it edges on slightly rock-like. It moves a little slow to truly jam out to, but again, good backing music for a generally relaxed situation. It's just an overall pretty cool song. I have to admit, as the bridge hits - the song gets better and better. Okay, I guess it's grown on me.
Not a bad groove going for "Perfect Defect." I know that there's been other poignant messages in some of the other song, but this is a pretty good one to comment on our times with. There's very much a movement on accepting yourself and others these days - it's almost like that is vital for young people to accept themselves, to be told constantly how accepted they are, despite their flaws. I could be off, but that's what I'm getting.
"I've Seen The Light / Inside of Clouds" is lost on me, other than this sweet sax line following throughout that you wouldn't notice unless you were sort of zoning out of the rest. It's a good interlude song though, sort of just falling in the middle and moving onto the next, without much emphasis on making you listen intently.
Oh you know there's got to me something to "God Bless Us All." The sound at the get-go alone is just twisted enough to tell us so. There's some great harmonies as it builds into the chorus. Then it twists again, which is largely due to the horns. The whole song winds up being some kind of message to colored kids standing up for themselves and pursuing what they want. Maybe that won't make sense in the future, for better or worse, but the words are being put out there.
"Life As A Fish" brings in the religious/evolution debates of today. Yah know, the more I get into what each song's about, and as you accept the idea of the time capsule of today, the more this album gets interesting. While this song isn't appealing musically really (interesting, just not entirely repeatably appealing), that realization is cool enough to keep pressing through.
"Nothing. We learned nothing, right?"
Time to get groovy again. "Nothing On You" is another devotion to a girl, which doesn't help my argument from the last song. It doesn't make a for a bad song though. Subject-wise, this is just like every other damn song playing in the clubs, and most radios for that matter. Musically, it's totally different in every way, and that, at least, is a really redeeming factor.
"Hot-n-Fun" makes a good point - "people don't wanna think no more, they just wanna feel." There's something entirely old school and awesome about this song, even if it's just about insane partying. Maybe it's the addition of the piano, or that Nelly Furtado's involved in the whole thing. Parts are repetitive enough to know the song, but not so looped that you get bored quickly. Damn, this one needs to get played just a little more often when we're out and about.
We've actually reached the end of the base album and are heading into the bonus tracks of the deluxe edition. "It's In The Air" starts with a loud, jaunting political rant, and now we see why these are bonus tracks. These are probably the more prolific tracks meant to say more in words than the previous were, at least politically. There's direct attacks on how screwed up our system, or whatever you want to call it, is.
"Sacred Temple." Don't think I'm crazy, or... well, at least hear me out. This sounds like KoRn, and I say that as a fan. There's just something in those whispers that scream it. It's girl-related, and there's some really strange shifts in musical elements throughout - even reaching into this almost Egyptian sound. "Miami" without the silly.
Listen to "I Wanna Jam" and tell me that line about "teenagers takin' over the world" doesn't sound familiar. I can't explain it. Oh well. From experience of working with today's teenagers, this is a pretty accurate description of them. They're far too mature for their own good, and therefore becoming the major group to target to sell to. It's just a weird but true phenomenon. I still can't figure out where they get the money.
"The Man" just strikes you from the title as a good close-out song for the album of this nature. The beat's sort of weird and sexual, but I guess in the end it all winds up making some kind of sense. Maybe it's just got too weird a vibe to really enjoy, but there is an ending quality to it as we check-out on this album.
Added To My Playlist:
- "Perfect Defect"
- "Life as a Fish"
Welp, it wasn't a favorite, but was, by far, one of the most interesting pieces I've heard - perhaps ever. It makes for a really good look at our time, if you're taking the time to listen. If you're not? It's still fantastic to put on while you're around with some friends for the night. Either way, this one was good. Real good.
This was another suggested from the same friend that gave me Sharon Jones as a project. I have a lot of respect for his tastes, mostly because he does allow for a lot of room genre-wise in his tastes. Music is music is music, no matter what little niche it may seem to fit in to.This album actually came out on my birthday (Ringo was far more important to my world though). This is twelve albums in for Leonard, and was all over NPR during release time. To follow along via Spotify, check out this link. Otherwise, enjoy the ramblings.I know it's not spoken word, but that's the only description I can give to things as we start off with "Going Home." The lyrics, I have a feeling, are where it's really at here. I love the subtleness of the background, with the voices and the slight beat. There is an ABAB sort of structure, and the chorus is prevalent, and actually quite beautiful. There's a story of returning. The singers take over for a little bit singing the melody for that spoken chorus that's hit too hard already. Very self-reflective."Amen" has a little more to it instrumentally, but we're not without out deep-voiced Leonard. It's a very depressing song as it rolls, especially once the trumpet, a usually bright instrument, plays out this sad melody that just makes you want to lay back and die.The piano that starts this almost made me hopeful for real singing, but "Show Me The Place" is ever as deep. Oh, wait, there's a little bit of singing going on. It's oddly beautiful actually, with a violin that makes the song completely. It's just incredibly sad again, which could be the whole point of the album, I don't know. There's a lot to the lyrics, don't get me wrong. They've got a depth unlike anything else we've reviewed in quite some time. It's just so tough to be okay with really hearing them when the tone has got you feeling so much like this.
Whoa! Some funk happening this time around, with "Darkness." Fine time to kick it up a notch Mr. Cohen. It could be worse. The beats here are pretty fantastic, and everyone's moving together on the track. There's a cohesive feel to the music and band throughout. Interesting end point of things to move to - darkness. It's a heavy song, for having so much lightness throughout. Just deal and drink it on down.
"Anyhow" is back to low tones as a backing. But whew, this guy is asking something from this girl. "I know you have to hate me, but right now could you hate me a little less?" I swear I've heard that quote somewhere. He's just asking for mercy, and man is it dragged out. Sounds like a bad boyfriend calling totally high, now regretting all his mistakes."Had to go crazy to love you. You were never the one." "Crazy to Love You." Ahhh this is one of those that's going to drive me into the arms of pop music again, isn't it. Sorry, it's not a bad album by any stretch, but we're yet again presented with something that's very down trodden and maybe even a little too honest."Come Healing" begins with a very sweet chorus of ladies singing of healing from pain, and it's almost got an Irish theme throughout. Leonard only comes in for a little while, and allows the song to mostly takes its own shape. There's beauty in this, as if singing up to something much higher than ourselves. There's a sense of asking for something better. It's almost like being in a holy place again.Oh banjo. No, really, the song's name is "Banjo." It's a folk-ish tune with an actual movement to it that makes you want to amble along that ol' country road. It's a quite decent song, if only I could get into it lyrically. I like how Leonard plays a little with his voice here though, hitting words in an awkward but cool way. Definitely plays in a different way off of the wonderful backing soulful voices."Lullaby" takes a cool turn with that bass line and a harmonica. The harmonic's actually what's carrying the lullaby portion of the song. The other elements have an old-west feeling and even would work for a ride along the range in a wagon. I'm not trying to be cute here. If not for the drums, I would think this was made for the Oregon Trail.We end with an interesting sounding song in "Different Sides." Classic split decision issues going on between them. They don't agree, but the way he puts it it just entirely fascinating. The positions are different, but they're explained in this twisted little way that makes you see them both for each. They may even be the same thing sometimes. I don't know - like I said, lyrically, this is an extremely album.Added To My Playlist:
Is it just me, or did this album go extremely fast? Not sure how, considering how slow some of the songs moved. But yeah, it's a difficult album overall. I don't mean that in a bad way, it's just tough. The tone of the songs makes it really hard to keep going, but the lyrics are intriguing as you catch them. It's something I would put on again in a heartbeat, but next time along side the lyrics book, if for nothing more than to start making sense out of the stories of those words.
- "Going Home"
- "Come Healing"
On request a few months ago from a very dear friend who I think kind of respects my music tastes and opinions (or he's humoring me - either way, I'll take it), here's the latest from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. I've seen the Dap Kings live, and man, it was a hellova show - seriously, just some of the best live music I've ever experienced, with the best possible crowd. Now we get Sharon Jones too, one of the coolest voices out there.
The quick info I can give, if you don't already know, is that the Dap-Kings are actually the house band for Daptone records. They work with a range of different singers on the label to create these funk and soul sounds that will blow you away. Various members worked on Amy Winehouse's Back To Black, and Sharon's been on a TMBG record. See, something for everyone. Basically, you've heard them.
For a full follow-along, check out the link to Spotify's stream.
Immediately, we get things going with strong horns and "Genuine Pt. 1." It's like a good party right form the start. There's something about a strong soul female voice that's so damn respectable and empowering. I think that's why Aretha stands up as such a queen for the ages. It's not always the lyrics, but here they work for the advantage, singing of leaving if a guy's not gonna be genuine with his intentions and love. Get it girl."Genuine Pt. 2" fades in as a continuation to the first, but far more based in the instrumentals, especially those horns. Sharon gives her improve throughout, but this one's about the sound more than the story. Not much to write while we're getting lost in the goodness.In a slower pace, "Longer and Stronger" takes on a tone of remembrance and understanding of life for the past years. After it all, the pride is still there and this is how she's able to give. It's a song of strength, and the voice is what lets us know it. The Kings do a fantastic job backing her here, don't get me wrong, but all the agony and strength is in her voice. That's the power here.
"He Said I Can" most definitely has the old school feeling I think you look for in funk and soul music. It's simple but so full at the same time, and I'm sorry if that doesn't make sense. Yah know what, screw that - I'm not sorry. The sound kicks ass and if you don't get what I'm saying in that description, then move on. See what I mean? Empowering.
Talk about strength - "I'm Not Gonna Cry." There's this cool exchange with the band even throughout the song. It's kind of just input between the verses, but it's cool. Oh man, and the bass did it for me - it only played for a couple notes, but everything broke up just perfectly enough to make it happen and hit on home. There's a sweet upbeat blues feel to the song even, making it a tune for the feel down but better moments in life.
"When I Come Home" utilizes some guitar in a different way than I think we've heard in our journeys throughout this blog. Close your eyes for a sec and imagine the band rocking out on stage. You know you can see that player just adding this little bit of old rock and blues guitar that you haven't heard in quite some time. There's something special going on in the whole experience. There's also something really cool about a woman being that excited to come home. The song itself remains classy, but there's some awesome sass in there too.
A song for America, apparently, "What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?" It's a straight up comment on just what the title says. Everyone's wondered, at one point or another, where our tax money goes to. I know seeing the Garden State Parkway being worked on for years, and the same stretch, mind you, has left me wondering that. It's a gentle little input of opinion to the album.
I walked back into the room after the commercials to hear this song going. "Settling In" has a more definite beat than I think we've been hearing in some spots. It makes for an interesting song, but sort of a lull in the album. It's not bad in the least, it's just not one of those true stand-out numbers. There's goodness throughout though, keeping up the reputation to a T."Ain't No Chimneys In The Projects" probably has the most interesting title out of everything. Cool little story about wondering how Santa can come down to give presents when there's not a chimney, and giving The Santa Clause answer where one appears (had to include the answer - it was bugging me too). The sax even takes a few little Christmas rifts throughout the song. It's possibly the most depressing Christmas song ever - no wait, that's "Christmas Shoes." But still, whew. Heavy.You're kidding me that the next song is "New Shoes." That's just a funny coincidence. We're back to power woman - she has new shoes and she's gonna use them. It's sort of the funk version of "These Boots Were Made For Walkin'." I feel like there's a movie somewhere out there that this would compliment the soundtrack of absolutely perfectly."Without A Trace" has a little more bite to the words. "How can you look me in the eyes and still do the things you do? Strange I know, but that's the way love goes." The music is beautifully modern with that old-school charm to it. It's sad but full of freedom. At least there's an admittance here that things aren't right and there's something else better. We're ending things out on "Inspiration Information," one that brings the whole band in for the vocals. It seems like a good wrap-up song for the whole gang. It's not up or down on my own radar, but just a good end-of-the-night jam for everyone.Added To My Playlist:
Good times folks, which was to be expected. The jams are just classic and right from this combo, and there's no denying that there's something great going on. Again, it's even better live, and you should give both the album and a show a shot if you ever get a chance!
- "Genuine Pt. 1"
- "I'm Not Gonna Cry"
- "When I Come Home"
- "Without A Trace"
Remember when i did their other album, Midnight Boom? Come on, someone out there surely does, right? I'm looking at you Christina!! Because it was your request! And this was the other album! I'm trying to work in some variety to my lists - requests (send 'um on in!), Grammys, and Bonnaroo. So, here we go back to the requests!!
I remember really liking their first album I reviewed, so I'm excited for another one. Plus, the first single was released on my 23rd birthday, so they automatically have a place in my heart.
Check out the Spotify listen link if you're interested in hearing it as I do.
We start off with "Future Starts Slow" and this sweet beat. I don't know how to pinpoint exactly what it is, but I'm really digging the background music used here. The voices, maybe not so much, but they're maybe blended a little too oddly, creating a ghost-like charm. But man, when that guitar comes back in to carry the beat back up, I'm entranced again. I'm not sure what a long-lasting love I'll ever have for it, but I like the track for now.
"Satellite" takes things to this other, sort of lulled-down space. It's a little more dragging than the first song. I don't remember the voices having this effect on them in the first go-around, but I could be fuzzy there. It's not a bad thing, just different. I probably did the whole White Stripes comparison before too, right? Hm. I need some new material.
"Heart Is A Beating Drum" bring us, again, some really good rhythms. I mean, appropriate, given the title. Even the vocals work here to though, and the guitar parts are a little muted, though they still maintain greatest control of the music. The song's really steady, and while that normally doesn't work for me, there's some weird little additional parts added in that make it an unexpected sleeper thrill (don't over-think that statement). "It's not the door you're using, but the way you're walking through it." It's almost another way of saying it's not the destination, it's the journey.
Do I sense a little grit and even dirty guitar going on in "Nail In My Coffin?" It's kind of a sweet unexpected sound. Yes unexpected is probably my description of the album. I don't know if I love this song of not though. It's got the grit that's really cool throughout the choruses, but dies off for me on the verses, like they were just thrown in on a whim.
"Wild Charms" is lulling. No really, it's just so tiresome. The man's voice is doing nothing to help, even though it's the first real solo we've gotten from him side. I need to stop writing these between reading the A-Z humor column on PWTorch (wrestling site). I get to snarky.
She back for "DNA" but not in a very different way. It's still a bit dragging, though her dark voice gives a tone that's at least a bit interesting. I would be happy if they got rid of the "oh oh ohs" in their songs. Otherwise, this song actually eventually grows on me. It's a pretty dark look at life and conforming, I think. Or else that's just what my twisted mind is telling me.
But there's something even more intriguing about "Baby Says." For me, it might actually be in the mixing of the track. It's oddly muted but still emoting in an incredibly strange way. Everything's a little muffled, so at least you're not drawn to one weird sounding instrument or another. There's a cool sway aspect to it that appeals to the hippie side of life. As much as I'd love to hear it without all the added effects (note to self - find these tracks acoustically too), I like it just as much the way it is.
Much different approach, yet still almost sounding like an old cylinder, we're presented with "The Last Goodbye." It's a very simple song, with a very solemn tone to every piece, form piano, to string, to, of course, voice. It's such an oddly sad song, just from the title, then the sound to support it.
There's something about the echo voice in the background of the chorus of "Damned If She Do" that adds a little something extra to the track. I don't love the repetition of lines in the chorus over it, but the rest of the song is a gem. Is the line "she come alive when she dyin'?" Not sure. I just know I couldn't figure it out the 25+ times I heard it, and that bugged me. Yes, I realize I'm at a computer and could look it up. Shut up.
Oh now I'm just getting hostile for no real reason towards y'all. Sorry. Rough/weird afternoon. Anywhos, we're picking the pace back up with "You Don't Own The Road." It's got that weird effect that makes it all grit and no pop. I'm not complaining - it's a cool sound and we're able to get our rock on a little more-so than before. I appreciate it as a track.
Finally, we end on "Pots and Pans." Below is an acoustic version on video, but the album version doesn't stray too far from that, other than the effects placed on the sound. It's a pretty cool folk sound a la that Danger Mouse CD we heard a while back, but with some weird guitar treatments that scream White Stripes (twice in one review - I know, I rock). It's got a good lead-out sound though, appropriate for the end of an album
Added to My Playlist:
This was the relatively newer album, being released three years after the one we first walked through back in December. Personally, I liked their older sound, but I see the evolution and appreciate new treatments and the new music in general. Sometimes it's hard to like a band from album to album, but there's definitely something here that can keep a fan holding on. Commmeennnttttt. Come on, you know you want to rip me for the stupid jokes here. Hell, even I want to. Seriously though, what's on y'all's minds?
- "Heart Is A Beating Drum"
- "Baby Says"
- "You Don't Own The Road"