May 5, 2006

A New Vision for Audio: v1.n2

This week has been all about studying and trying to get through to the other side. Musical choices have paralleled that sentiment in some cases, but more often than not, it was just “comfort music.” That and exploring the ways I can make auto-updating playlists that are based on number of plays and ratings... anyway, the playlist.

Living With War - Neil Young. A friend of mine turned me onto the free feed of this album at the following web site. I don’t know much about Neil Young except that he’s another iconoclast that’s done a lot of things, some more successful than others. And that Pearl Jam loves to cover him, act as his backing band, and just talk about him. This album is angry, melodic, chorus-driven (with an unclear number of people singing behind him). I like this disk. There’s something comforting about outsiders singing about the system and keeping it simple. Some tracks:

• Restless Consumer sounds like he either has the dude from Love Shack singing “Don’t need no more lies!” or he’s doing a spot on emulation.

• Let’s Impeach the President just says enough with its title, doesn’t it? Who’s the man who hired all the criminals?

• Roger and Out
seems like it’s built on the same chord progression as Knocking on Heaven’s Door so it’s got an instant recognition factor, but it’s not particularly noteworthy on its own.

Perfect Symmetry/Parallels - Fates Warning. I’ll write more, but I’ve really gotten back into progressive metal, from the old(er) school. I’m much more of a Fates Warning guy than Queensryche or Dream Theater. Maybe that’s more info than the average reader needs, but I think that FW isn’t afraid of reducing a song to its basic elements to get an emotion across - which reminds me more of Rush, the Prog Rock kings of Canada. It’s nice to have a 20-minute opus every once in a while, but I can’t listen to those songs all the time, and I can’t really identify with them. So these quieter releases from FW, between the outstanding No Exit and the less memorable Inside Out are standout albums that I can even read to. Zonder’s drums, Alder’s vocals, and Matheos’ clean guitar are clear highlights in the albums. Maybe the gloom of it is very appealing at this juncture. Who knows.

3) “One” - Mary J. Blige. I’ll admit that I was skeptical when I heard that Mary was doing a cover of this song. I love her stuff, but I just thought that there was a delicate quality to the song that I associated so wholly to Bono’s interpretation. But I’ve also heard a great version with R.E.M. singing alongside Bono, and the Johnny Cash version of the song was okay, but didn’t feel like it actually reached the peak of the original. Mary’s version doesn’t elicit the same goosebumps, but she really finds something inside of the song and takes it somewhere different, and beautiful. I guess it helps that Bono is along for some of the ride, but this is Mary’s show.

4) Ghost Reveries - Opeth. I’ve had tracks from this album for a while, but I just listened to the whole thing in sequence this week, and it’sdefinitely as powerful an album as they’ve put together. I am intrigued by this group that can alternate such beautiful passages with such brutal vocals and aggressive metal. Their last album, Damnation, companion to the much heavier Deliverance, was almost wholly acoustic/melodic, which showed off their ability to do it consistently, but Ghost Reveries has a lot of similar, though more richly textured, passages. The soft/hard combination reminds me of the Smashing Pumpkins when they were good. It’s not easy to pull it off, and Opeth does it better than well, at an extreme level for which I can’t really think of a parallel. I think some of the screamcore/nu metal groups have been trying to do similar, like Killswitch Engage and Atreyu, but they seem whiny in comparison. This album is alternatively beautiful and brutal, but this time more than any of the previous disks, I’m really compelled to listen straight through. Opeth is the real thing.

5) Eddie’s Archive - Iron Maiden. I’ve gotten back into Maiden in a major way. Not really sure of why, but I think the prospect of another album this year, and finding this extremely detailed fansite definitely helped. I’ve been giving the Blaze albums a little more of a chance, though I haven’t really thought about X-Factor since I sold my first copy years ago. Ahhh, memories. I must say, some of the nuggets in the archive are outstanding - to have seen the band in their heyday would have been awesome - but whatever. It probably would have been a bunch of loony white men and me. Sorta like high school, I guess. But I’d have free license to hurt them without consequences here. Who am I kidding - a Maiden show is not violent. It’s just a bunch of folks singing along and screaming for Bruce when he asks for it. The last tour was outstanding because they focused on the first 4 albums, but their live shows don’t really vary, and after listening to Live After Death, what’s the point of going? They won’t re-capture the magic of 20 years ago, so just spin that disk again and fade on 5...4...3...2...1.

The Dirtchamber Sessions, Pt. 1 - The Prodigy.
If you're a beat-head, a hip-hop head, a breakbeat-head, whatever, you have to check this out. I haven't seen it on disk, but got it from iTunes about a year ago, and it's infectious. The Prodigy have never been consistent, but Liam Howlett really knows his shit when it comes to music, and it's amazing that he can squeeze in Jane's Addition with the Ultramagnetic MC's and it still sounds tight. I've been spinning this a lot lately. Click
here to get to the page on iTunes.

No comments: