Aquarium Drunkard An eclectic independent audio community! http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard <![CDATA[She & Him Volume Two Quick Tip by Creamtrumpet]]> http://www.lunch.com/MusicMatters/reviews/d/UserReview-She_Him_Volume_Two-450-1486013-184966.html http://www.lunch.com/MusicMatters/reviews/d/UserReview-She_Him_Volume_Two-450-1486013-184966.html Sun, 10 Oct 2010 23:36:39 +0000 <![CDATA[Daytrotter Quick Tip by dbranan13]]> http://www.lunch.com/indie_music/reviews/song/UserReview-Daytrotter-33-1334002-58102.html http://www.lunch.com/indie_music/reviews/song/UserReview-Daytrotter-33-1334002-58102.html Tue, 8 Jun 2010 02:28:11 +0000 <![CDATA[xx (album) Quick Tip by theKENnection]]> http://www.lunch.com/indie_music/reviews/album/UserReview-xx_album_-33-1428890-57733.html http://www.lunch.com/indie_music/reviews/album/UserReview-xx_album_-33-1428890-57733.html Thu, 3 Jun 2010 07:39:01 +0000 <![CDATA[ TIMELESS SESSIONS BY A CLASSY GIANT]]> 1-8. With Teddy Wilson, p, and Jo Jones, dr. 9-16. With Don Abney, p, George Duvivier, b, and Louis Bellson, dr. 17-19. With Oscar Peterson, p, Herb Ellis, guit, Ray Brown, b, Bobby White, dr.

This exceptionally strong album showcases Benny Carter, who should have been declared a National Treasure, and it does it without frills. That's a Good Thing when you have a player as strong and as inventive as Carter was. Carter, a masterful altoist and not much less talented trumpeter (he doesn't play trumpet here, just sax), continued to play eloquently up to his death at the age of 95 in 2003. Listening to him on these small group sessions, one is struck by the elegance of his tone, which is lyrical and smooth, matched only by fellow alto player Johnny Hodges. But one is struck too by the fluidity and inventiveness of his solo lines. Carter may not have played bop but he could phrase and move as flexibly as the great bop players could, and there is an architecture to his solos that makes them compelling listening.

The best cuts on this CD are the first eight trio sessions where Carter is matched with two players who truly were his equals -master pianist Teddy Wilson and master drummer Jo Jones. I grew into jazz in the earl fifties and the pianists I listened to then comped spare chords when they were accompanying a horn and played mostly strings single notes when they soloed. What a pleasure it is to listen to Wilson's two-handed accompaniment behind Carter, which embraced full fleshed melody fragments and rhythm figures. Carter and Wilson obviously dug playing together. Jones plays well on brushes but so close is the rapport between Carter and Wilson that he is almost superfluous. Still, as always, he moves the pace along and his short drum solos, on brushes, are tasty and fun.

The quartet and quintet sessions suffer by comparison but are actually quite good. The piano seems undermiked on both sessions -not quite in balance with Carter's sax. Neither Abney nor Peterson is a Teddy Wilson but both are adequate and it is a pleasure to have Duvivier and Ray Brown on bass -both are strong players. Bellson is an adequate drummer, White ditto, and Herb Ellis doesn't seem to have much to do in his three cuts except play rhythm chords. But my oh my, does Carter wail on EVERY cut!

Do I have a favorite Carter solo? What about all of them?]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-3_4_5_The_Verve_Small_Group_Sessions-671-1611801-153622-TIMELESS_SESSIONS_BY_A_CLASSY_GIANT.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-3_4_5_The_Verve_Small_Group_Sessions-671-1611801-153622-TIMELESS_SESSIONS_BY_A_CLASSY_GIANT.html Wed, 19 May 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ TIMELESS SESSIONS BY A CLASSY GIANT]]> 1-8. With Teddy Wilson, p, and Jo Jones, dr. 9-16. With Don Abney, p, George Duvivier, b, and Louis Bellson, dr. 17-19. With Oscar Peterson, p, Herb Ellis, guit, Ray Brown, b, Bobby White, dr.

This exceptionally strong album showcases Benny Carter, who should have been declared a National Treasure, and it does it without frills. That's a Good Thing when you have a player as strong and as inventive as Carter was. Carter, a masterful altoist and not much less talented trumpeter (he doesn't play trumpet here, just sax), continued to play eloquently up to his death at the age of 95 in 2003. Listening to him on these small group sessions, one is struck by the elegance of his tone, which is lyrical and smooth, matched only by fellow alto player Johnny Hodges. But one is struck too by the fluidity and inventiveness of his solo lines. Carter may not have played bop but he could phrase and move as flexibly as the great bop players could, and there is an architecture to his solos that makes them compelling listening.

The best cuts on this CD are the first eight trio sessions where Carter is matched with two players who truly were his equals -master pianist Teddy Wilson and master drummer Jo Jones. I grew into jazz in the earl fifties and the pianists I listened to then comped spare chords when they were accompanying a horn and played mostly strings single notes when they soloed. What a pleasure it is to listen to Wilson's two-handed accompaniment behind Carter, which embraced full fleshed melody fragments and rhythm figures. Carter and Wilson obviously dug playing together. Jones plays well on brushes but so close is the rapport between Carter and Wilson that he is almost superfluous. Still, as always, he moves the pace along and his short drum solos, on brushes, are tasty and fun.

The quartet and quintet sessions suffer by comparison but are actually quite good. The piano seems undermiked on both sessions -not quite in balance with Carter's sax. Neither Abney nor Peterson is a Teddy Wilson but both are adequate and it is a pleasure to have Duvivier and Ray Brown on bass -both are strong players. Bellson is an adequate drummer, White ditto, and Herb Ellis doesn't seem to have much to do in his three cuts except play rhythm chords. But my oh my, does Carter wail on EVERY cut!

Do I have a favorite Carter solo? What about all of them?]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-3_4_5_The_Verve_Small_Group_Sessions-671-1611800-153621-TIMELESS_SESSIONS_BY_A_CLASSY_GIANT.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-3_4_5_The_Verve_Small_Group_Sessions-671-1611800-153621-TIMELESS_SESSIONS_BY_A_CLASSY_GIANT.html Wed, 19 May 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Not a great match for the movie]]> http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Where_The_Wild_Things_Are_Original_Motion_Picture_Soundtrack-671-1427488-72474-Not_a_great_match_for_the_movie.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Where_The_Wild_Things_Are_Original_Motion_Picture_Soundtrack-671-1427488-72474-Not_a_great_match_for_the_movie.html Wed, 31 Mar 2010 12:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[ Fun!]]> http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/actor/UserReview-Jenny_Lewis-671-1083569-19621-Fun_.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/actor/UserReview-Jenny_Lewis-671-1083569-19621-Fun_.html Thu, 11 Mar 2010 20:04:42 +0000 <![CDATA[ I like..but not for me]]> http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/band/UserReview-Rilo_Kiley-671-1130914-19616-I_like_but_not_for_me.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/band/UserReview-Rilo_Kiley-671-1130914-19616-I_like_but_not_for_me.html Thu, 11 Mar 2010 19:10:00 +0000 <![CDATA[ Indie Authenticity award goes to....Radiohead 2007 album " In Rainbows"]]> Band: Radiohead
Album: In Rainbows

What I need most in this world is a reason,a reason to be and express that being in a beneficial way to others. Searching like everyone for a validation of sorts,a feeling of importance,to be needed. The daily life that surrounds this hunt is not easy and and full of trials that may set you back.When I feel beat down,when I cant feel the music but only hear it, I play In Rainbows.I know you would prefer I went to church or called my headshrinker but life isn't getting any longer and therapy must travel.

This album speaks a million languages, and if you need inspiration to "be" whatever it is your reaching for, this will ground you and give you refuge. Released in 2007 I have yet to find an album that teaches me to hear and listen like this one. As a reviewer I need to have a clear vision on a deadline and I depend on this album to help me balance my perspective. Every track will affect you in a way other music does not. It will crawl out from beneath whatever carpet it was swept under and waltz out of whatever closet it was hidden in and stand in your mirror with you, looking you in the eye,forgiving and ready to move forward. Proactive in its unleashing but allowing your state to run its course until it is changed. Freeing you ..

I will not go on and on about a particular track , the songs are all purposeful and authentic. To pick one would be a crime.The album in its entirety has rooted Radiohead on my Indie street cred list no matter how popular they may get ,they remain authentic . Indie artists seeking true inspiration as they trample the indie battlefield should have this at the ready.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-In_Rainbows-671-1538704-19083-Indie_Authenticity_award_goes_to_Radiohead_2007.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-In_Rainbows-671-1538704-19083-Indie_Authenticity_award_goes_to_Radiohead_2007.html Mon, 1 Mar 2010 17:04:51 +0000
<![CDATA[ Phantograms album Eyelid Movies]]> Band: Phantogram
Album: Eyelid Movies
Song:When Im small
 
Well color me breathless.Typically coming at me straight out of the gate breathing heavy will get you nowhere, but before my finger lifted off the play button I was engaged. Phantogram, my newest indie obsession,has my full attention with "Eyelid Movies".Mentally motivating me,reminding me that the mess is lovely and we are all knee deep in the stuff.Think we have control,ache for it,kneel for it..but never without total surrender swarming beneath the surface..Like a phantom,swirling me with each revolution of the record.I am obviously a beat hunter,looking to be possessed in my dream.As you know this is not a test, this is a dream and my soundtrack (don't act like you don't have one..) will include "When Im small',which not only was up my alley but now has a reserved parking space.Mysterious and beautiful,asleep or awake Phantogram is creating their own brand of dreamcore indie electronic genious.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Eyelid_Movies-671-1439189-19041-Phantograms_album_Eyelid_Movies.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Eyelid_Movies-671-1439189-19041-Phantograms_album_Eyelid_Movies.html Sun, 28 Feb 2010 22:53:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ Does not include the song I bought it for, but great.]]> 1 Lock And Key
2 Photograph
3 Hello, Never
4 Death Could Be At The Door
5 It Was A Lovely Parade
6 Holy
7 Your Beauty Is A Knife I Turn On My Throat
8 It's So Sexy
9 Last Song
10 Heal It/Feel It
11 Ballet Or Art

The song I bought it for was "I'm Sorry, But I'm Beginning To Hate Your Face", and it is NOT on this CD.

If you like Spoon, Flight of the Conchords and David Bowie, you will really enjoy this album.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Eagle_Seagull-671-1612431-154013-Does_not_include_the_song_I_bought_it_for_but.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Eagle_Seagull-671-1612431-154013-Does_not_include_the_song_I_bought_it_for_but.html Thu, 5 Nov 2009 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ It's a shame that Kurt Cobain's name will be forever attached to this band.]]>
Ok, I'm just kidding (sort of) everyone knows that Kurt liked a lot of bands and was influenced by all of them (The Meat Puppets are probably the most well-known example) . But The Vaselines were (arguably) his favorite band of them all, and I totally get why. You know the Nirvana song, "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam"? Yeah, that belongs to the Vaselines:



It's pretty much a rule that in order for a band to be your favorite, they have to have more than one album. I'm breaking that rule, because the Vaselines had a totally non-prolific career, but I cant get enough of the same 20-ish songs they've had for over 20 years.

Every song has really simple lyrics but an amazingly catchy sound - indie pop at its finest. Don't let their basic (and sometimes silly) lyrics throw you off - THIS BAND IS AMAZING. When the man's (Eugene Kelly) vocals waver, the girl (Frances McKee) swoops right in and makes everything sound angelic and a little childish. The beginnings of lo-fi/twee pop at their finest.

This album I am reviewing is a re-release of their catalogue. I think this Pitchfork.com review does an excellent job of summing up the album (hey, they're the professionals, not me):

"....They influenced Nirvana. Nirvana's (good-intentioned, I'm sure) covers of "Molly's Lips" and "Son of a Gun" were more-or-less faithful, bouncy renditions, but they lacked the humor, menace, and complexity of the naïvely played, ambivalently sung originals. And "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" has long been associated with Nirvana's funereal MTV Unplugged performance, during which Cobain caressed the sweetly sacrilegious song with the reverence due a cultural relic-- something it neither wanted nor deserved....

....As the former romantic couple has repeatedly asserted in interviews (including one conducted for inclusion in the set by Pastel Stephen McRobbie), the band was originally a lark, and many of their songs were written for a laugh by horny but essentially pretty wholesome kids with time on their hands. Early tracks-- "Rory Rides Me Raw", with its charmingly awful double entendres, and Divine cover "You Think You're a Man" with its juvenile, erm, climactic ending-- succinctly make that case. (They never abandoned the sexually provocative, however, going on to record songs like "Monsterpussy" and "The Day I Was a Horse".)

....With their dirty mouths and pretty faces, pop perspicacity and knack for making a bloody racket, there's no question the Vaselines were worth rescuing from obscurity."
 

The album is silly and noisy but so catchy and feel-good that I can't get enough- literally. The amount of plays this song has in my iTune library is actually disturbing (just know its in the triple digits, ok?):

 

Like I said....this might be the best song I've heard ever. In life. Ever. I'm not exaggerating.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/song/UserReview-Enter_The_Vaselines-671-1425995-13665-It_s_a_shame_that_Kurt_Cobain_s_name_will_be.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/song/UserReview-Enter_The_Vaselines-671-1425995-13665-It_s_a_shame_that_Kurt_Cobain_s_name_will_be.html Thu, 8 Oct 2009 19:25:58 +0000
<![CDATA[ Wacky variables, jive equation]]> http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Dear_Science-671-1618180-160106-Wacky_variables_jive_equation.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Dear_Science-671-1618180-160106-Wacky_variables_jive_equation.html Tue, 28 Jul 2009 12:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[ Vinyl, Lovely Vinyl, Beautiful Pressing]]>
Listen to the previews, download the MP3's, then go and buy this on vinyl. The sound quality and difference is remarkable. Everything is just warmer, and clearer than on CD.

The pressing is on heavy thick vinyl that never existed back in the day (even audiophile recordings in the vinyl heyday were never on vinyl this heavy). Frankly, vinyl never sounded this good. When that was the only format, there were tons of manufacturing shortcuts taken. The audio gear and speakers were nowhere as good as they are today. My Yamaha receiver has the best sounding preamp for phono input. Nothing I ever listened to before was this good.

Just enjoy the whole vinyl experience on a really great album.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-In_Rainbows-671-1538704-94764-Vinyl_Lovely_Vinyl_Beautiful_Pressing.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-In_Rainbows-671-1538704-94764-Vinyl_Lovely_Vinyl_Beautiful_Pressing.html Sat, 31 Jan 2009 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ My Reign Of Love For Coldplay Continues On...]]> Pros: To put it short, Coldplay is one of the most innovative groups in music now...

Cons:

None (read review)



The Bottom Line: I love Coldplay, and this album is every reason why.  Chris Martin's musical genius is apparent in each and every brilliantly crafted song.


During the past couple of years, Coldplay has gone from being just a blip on my musical radar, to my favorite band (well, third after John Mayer and Jamie Cullum, but technically, they aren't "bands" anyway). I've devoured all of their releases; falling in love with Chris Martin's voice, songwriting and overall genius.

Their newest effort, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, is no exception to the rule.

The album begins with an exciting instrumental piece, Life in Technicolor, which sets the mood perfectly for the album. The opener fades into the first real song on the album, Cemeteries of London. The midtempo ballad is a good showcase of Martin's trademark falsetto, and while not highly remarkable, still a lovely beginning for the album.

The disc hits a high point early on with one of my favorites, Lost! Having a sort of African/tribal sound to it, musically, the song is something new and unique for Coldplay. The fresh, upbeat melody is a welcome addition to the band's repertoire of songs, yet the lyrics remain just as poignant and remarkable as their slower ballads ("I just got lost/Every river that I've tried to cross/And every door I ever tried was locked/Ooh-Oh, And I'm just waiting till the shine wears off.http://www.lunch.com/You might be a big fish/In a little pond/Doesn't mean you've won/'Cause along may come/A bigger one/And you'll be lost"). iTunes also offers an acoustic version of this song, which is equally lovely, and allows more emphasis on the lyrics.

42 is next, and is another of my favorites. Don't get caught up on the title- Martin said in an interview that the number 42 has no real significance, but once you hear the opening bars of the song, chances are you won't be thinking much of the title anyway. The piano opening calls to mind The Scientist, but the focus is mainly on the lyrics, which quite honestly, caused to me to tear up the first time I heard them ("Those who are dead/Are not dead/They're just living in my head/And since I fell/For that spell/I am living there as well/Time is so short/And I'm sure/There must be something more..."). After a repetition of the lyrics, the song changes up in tempo and becomes faster paced and upbeat. It sort of segues into a totally different song from this point on; though the lyrics are still somewhat linked ("You thought you might be a ghost/You didn't get to heaven/But you made it close") the style and sound are completely different. Both parts of the song would be great separately, and actually work quite well together.

Lovers In Japan/Reign Of Love is another two separate songs joined into one. Lovers has an appropriate Japanese/Asian style sound, that's again, something not usually heard from Coldplay. Again, the sound works well, and the melody placed with the descriptive lyrics ("Tonight maybe we're gonna run/Dreaming of the Osaka sun/Ohh ohh.http://www.lunch.com/Dreaming of when the morning comes") create a great song. Reign is a slower paced track, that lyrically reminds me a haiku ("Locusts will/Lift me up/I'm just a prisoner/In a reign of love"); the imagery and metaphors work well with the quiet, dream-like sound.

Yes!/Chinese Sleep Chant is similar to it's predecessors in the fact that it's another pair of songs, but this time around, isn't quite as strong a pair as the ones before it. The strings in Yes! are remarkably pretty, but besides that, the song isn't very special. The verses sound very similar to some of Coldplay's other songs, particularly from A Rush Of Blood To The Head, which was my least favorite album of theirs, and therefore not quite a good thing. Chinese Sleep Chant is a frenzied instrumental piece, that, while fun to listen to- isn't exactly needed or necessary on the album.

The title track, Viva La Vida appears next, and I absolutely love this song! I loved it from the second I heard it on the iTunes commercial in early May; the exuberant melody and Martin's lively delivery are what make the track so great. This also happens to be the band's first number one song, and it's easy to see why. The string section in this song, alone, is amazing- not to mention the brilliant sound. Lyrically, the song is about a king who's lost his kingdom (or as I summed it up to my friends once, "it's about a king who is lamenting upon the fact that he sucks a--."), and the lyrics do paint the picture quite clearly ("I used to roll the dice/Feel the fear in my enemies eyes/Listen as the crowd would sing:/"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"/One minute I held the key/Next the walls were closed on me/And I discovered that my castles stand/Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand"). Simply put, this song makes me happy every time I listen to it, and no matter how many times I've heard it, I've yet to tire of it.

Violet Hill was the first single from the album, and actually took a bit of time to grow on me. I was admittedly a bit troubled the first time I heard the song; it sounded too dreary and similar to their other songs upon first listen. However, the guitar riff that plays throughout is a heavier than most other Coldplay songs, and the refrain is a favorite of mine ("If you love me/Won't you let me know?"). Even the guitar solo towards the end is a bit unexpected, but fits well.

Another favorite of mine is the midtempo treat, Strawberry Swing. The song continues in the direction of the album's Japanese influenced-sound, but this time has a lighter melody paired with carefree lyrics ("People moving all the time/Inside a perfectly straight line/Don't you wanna curve away?/When it's such.http://www.lunch.com/It's such a perfect day/Now the sky could be blue/I don't mind/Without you/It's a waste of time"). The track is another that makes me happy whenever I hear it.

The album comes to an end with Death And All His Friends, a quietly impressive ballad. The piano, vocals, and lyrics at the beginning of the song ("All winter, we got carried/Oh way over on the rooftops let's get married/All summer we just hurried/So come over, just be patient, and don't worry") set a relaxing mood. Then, like most of the album, the tempo changes up towards the second chorus, and the piano and Martin's vocals become louder as he sings, "No I don't wanna battle from beginning to end;/I don't wanna cycle, recycle revenge;/I don't wanna follow death and all his friends." The song then fades into a "hidden" track, titled The Escapist, which has the same underlying tune of Life In Technicolor but this time includes lyrics ("And in the end/We lie awake/And we dream/We'll make an escape"). The short song is a perfect way to make the album go full circle, and is a brilliant end to the disc.

So, here I am again, thoroughly enjoying another Coldplay album and believing that Chris Martin and the gang will never fail to impress me. Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends is an amazing album, and (possibly tied with Parachutes) my favorite Coldplay album. Well, so far, at least...


Don't Be Lost...Here's More Coldplay For You:
Parachutes- Coldplay
A Rush Of Blood To The Head- Coldplay
X&Y- Coldplay



Recommended:
Yes

Great Music to Play While: Driving]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-185555-My_Reign_Of_Love_For_Coldplay_Continues_On_.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-185555-My_Reign_Of_Love_For_Coldplay_Continues_On_.html Sat, 27 Sep 2008 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Album: Viva La Vida]]>
The second track "Cemeteries of London" reminds me of soundtrack music from those old spaghetti westerns, but with deep and introspective lyrics:

"God is in the houses and God is in my head... and all the cemeteries in London...
I see God come in my garden, but I don't know what he said,
For my heart it wasn't open..."

Third track "Lost" is a plaintive song, minus a clearly defined chorus, but not missing it for a moment.

This is the point where the album really takes off. Chris Martin's vocals stand out from the muted but beautiful background melody of "42", and then it kicks up a notch by the end. The next two tracks are two-fers, each approximately 7 minutes of classic Coldplay. "Lovers in Japan" flows into the introspective "Reign of Love", and then "Yes" leads in the hidden (mostly instrumental) track "Chinese Sleep Chant". On "Yes", Chris Martin reaches deep down into his vocal range, and pulls out some of his lowest notes ever.

This brings us to the best (and most radio friendly) track on the album. The title track "Viva La Vida" comes closest to mainstream, and is an instant favorite on the first listen. Hot on its heels comes the other single "Violet Hill" which features a guitar solo in the middle before Martin comes back in to ask, among other things, "If you love me, Won't you let me know? "

The short ten-track album closes with "Strawberry Swing" and the melancholy "Death and All His Friends".


Slower, darker and more meditative, yes
Mainstream, no
Brilliant, definitely




Amanda Richards]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-448-Album_Viva_La_Vida.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-448-Album_Viva_La_Vida.html Tue, 2 Sep 2008 23:31:27 +0000
<![CDATA[ Viva la vida, baby]]> Parachutes." Since then, music fans have been heralding Coldplay as the next big thing, the band that could rise up and lead the music world like Radiohead and U2 have been doing.

But they've been like that brilliant student who never quite applies his or herself to the schoolwork, the student who is trying to do his or her best but just can't. Their debut was good, their sophomore effort, "A Rush of Blood to the Head," was excellent (ranking on "Rolling Stone"'s list of the 500 greatest albums in history), and their third album, 2005's "X&Y," was very good, though not a whole lot more than the band trying to sound like U2 (lead Chris Martin's biggest influence). The band needed a teacher. For their fourth album, they hired Brian Eno as producer - the most brilliant move they could ever have made. Eno produced the most brilliant and groundbreaking albums of David Bowie, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, and, yes, U2. He's just what the band needed.

So now we have Coldplay's fourth album, "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends." As promised, it's the beginning of a new era for the band. Whether that era is one to be cheered or ignored is up in the air. While some will appreciate the band's more complex, refined, and much more inspired style, evident on songs like the ethereal "Cemeteries of London" or the soul-grabbing title anthem, "Viva La Vida," others will lament the fact that, on those same songs, Martin sounds like he's dying not to make Coldplay go down in history via originality but to go down in history via playing U2's similar-looking cousin. The fact of the matter is that Martin looks nothing like Bono - he's not even Irish. That's where Eno comes in. If Martin has asked him to dress them like Bono, Eno has smiled and said, "Alright, I'll do it," and done it just enough to convince Martin that it's been done. In fact, though, Eno has added some stylistic flare to separate Coldplay from their idols.

Those less-tolerant listeners may find "Viva La Vida" a cold listen, though the quality of Eno's warm production is undeniable. But for those who are willing to try to understand Martin's U2-bound aspirations, there's a lot to "Viva La Vida," particularly in beautiful pieces like the instrumental opener, "Life in Technicolor," the sensational and rock-sturdy "Lost!" (the group's own "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"), the forementioned title track, or the mind-bending psychedelic "Chinese Sleep Chant." Coldplay still isn't in the same league as Radiohead or U2 -- they're too afraid of upsetting anyone -- and, heck, they may never be in that league, but regardless, "Viva La Vida" is an excellent album. More importantly, it's a softly-cooed lover's whisper of wonderful things to come.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-160181-Viva_la_vida_baby.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-160181-Viva_la_vida_baby.html Mon, 1 Sep 2008 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Great new Coldplay, nice production & orchestration]]> http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-104526-Great_new_Coldplay_nice_production_.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-104526-Great_new_Coldplay_nice_production_.html Thu, 19 Jun 2008 12:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[ Mesmerizing Concept C.D. for Hungry Ears and Minds]]>
Their new release `Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends' is a concept album, one that encapsulates the dichotomies of the broader subjects of life with clever--if not contradictory--phrasing to match the mysteries they try to reflect. While the quality is consistent for the entire album, there are no songs as great as "Clocks" or "Green Eyes," yet the album is greater than the sum of its parts.

Featuring some sublime and substantive piano work and some exotic and excellent violin, there's enough variety to make this work a must have for fans and newcomers alike.

The subject matter is twofold, often like the structure of their songs--just like the C.D. title. Most of the tracks are really two songs fused together, segues if you will, like the Beatles did on `Sgt. Pepper' and `Abbey Road,' except they do it within a song instead of between songs (reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson's "Irvine," off of 'My December,' which is really two songs, except she did it with a break). Like `...Pepper,' they even reprise the first song at the end. "Life [is indeed] in Technicolor".

Musically, they change notes and tempos to reflect the theme. The best songs in the middle do this, including "Lost!" (the folly of winning and losing); "Lovers in Japan" and "Yes," (yearning, 'Lust/Caution' and attainment); (The first part of "Lovers..." sounds like U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name;" the second part like something off of 'October'.) "Viva La Vida" (those who reign on heaven and earth, "St. Peter won't call my name/...When I ruled the world.") and "The Violent Hill," (the secular and spiritual realms, "...Long and dark December/When the banks became cathedrals.")

Exceptions include "42," which may be in four parts--I keep losing count--and invokes the memory of the dead, reconciling the divide between the living and the departed. "Strawberry Swing" is a country fusion and properly remains one solid song. The lyrics celebrate the wonders and pleasures of life, and, call me all wet, but I believe recently deceased Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman, is invoked here. After all, Bergman revered the fruit, and depicted it in exuberant community partaking in `The Seventh Seal' and `Wild Strawberries'. Similarly, "Cemeteries of London," is celestial, and while the words are elusive to me so far, it is one of the best tracks on the C.D.

I love this album despite its alleged flaws. I am hypnotized by its reverberating rhythms, and get lost in its everyman lyrics. "Lost!" is an encouraging reminder that winning is tentative and limiting; not everyone can win at once after all. If the nearly subliminal wisdom doesn't get you, then some of the last lines will: "No, I don't want battlefronts from beginning to end./No, I don't want to recycle revenge."

What better way to travel through life than with in your car with this Coldplay C.D.? It provides food for thought, but, ah, what exquisite food for the ears and mind.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-104864-Mesmerizing_Concept_C_D_for_Hungry_Ears_and_Minds.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/album/UserReview-Viva_La_Vida-671-1010277-104864-Mesmerizing_Concept_C_D_for_Hungry_Ears_and_Minds.html Tue, 17 Jun 2008 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ There's no biz like Muse's Showbiz]]> Pros: "Sunburn"

Cons: Meh.

The Bottom Line: A good CD, but not one that particularly rocks my socks. Others may feel differently.

When I heard Muse’s “Map of the Problematique” I got really excited and got their Black Holes and Revelations CD, only to be quite disappointed. I read other reviews that claimed their earlier CDs were better, so in the hopes that they’d at least have a handful of songs that truly ruled like “Map of the Problematique,” I acquired some.

Showbiz is the group’s first album. Muse is a band from the UK and consists of only three guys; Matthew Bellamy (vocals, guitar and piano), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass guitar and extra vocals), and Dominic Howard (drums). When these guys aren’t using their actual instruments, they’re adding in the necessary synthetic elements for some electronica spice. The group makes an interesting blend of music that I think people either love or reject; it either rocks or it’s just too weird. Some have compared them to Radiohead, which can help act as a reference for what you’re getting into (though I haven’t heard enough Radiohead to make any sound judgement so for now Muse is on their own).

For me, Muse reminds me of a lot of different bands thrown together, ranging in timelines—from some of the acid-like stuff my parents listen to, to Bellamy occasionally hitting notes like Justin Hawkins from The Darkness. Don’t worry, he can go quite low as well.

Here’s a quick rundown of the songs, a few noteworthy tidbits, and how many stars each song gets:

1.) Sunburn 4 stars - like the hard rock and the inclusion of the piano

2.) Muscle Museum 3 stars - Not particularly fond of the opening – do sort of like the full-bodied refrain, but after a while it feels repetitive and the opening part does make more appearances.

3.) Filip 3.5 stars - Somewhat peppy in a weird way – at least compared to the first two songs. Like the instrument only session leading to the fun end.

4.) Falling Down 3 stars - A decent song but slow and not quite my cup of tea. I could chill to it but...eh.

5.) Cave 4 stars - Like the piano interlude near the end and the overall rocking of the song.

6.) Showbiz 3 stars - While I like the melody overall, the muffled way they’ve covered Bellamy’s voice (I call it radio-singing; it sounds tinny and fuzzy) kind of bugs me. It works fairly well here, but I’ve never been a fan of it.

7.) Unintended 4 stars - A little unexpected relaxed guitar starts us off into another mellow song.

8.) Uno 3 stars - Weird opening, like the revving of an electronic engine, before breaking out into full guitar rock. Ends faster than you’d think.

9.) Sober 4 stars - Like the hard guitar and the make-no-apologies roughness of the song.

10.) Escape 3.5 stars - Another slow song, but this time it’s slow rock as opposed to slow overall (less instrumentation and chilled melodies).

11.) Overdue 3 stars - More rock, and though it does get a bit repetitive near the end, it’s not annoying as it ends fairly soon after (being the shortest song here at 2:26).

12.) Hate This and I’ll Love You 3 stars - Night sounds – crickets and other insects open this song, which is semi-slow. And bring in some of that electronic stuff.

Definitely not as bizarre and varied as Black Holes and Revelations, which means I was more inclined to listen to all the songs, but still not all that impressive to me. Sure, it was okay and I give the guys of Muse bonus points for being attention-grabbing and creative, but really the only song on here that excites me is "Sunburn." My first listen through of the CD gave me the initial reaction of, "Mm...three stars when I review it. " Subsequent hearings have led me to give in and offer up a four stars instead. Hard work an creativity should get recognition when it’s there.

Still, I don’t think I’ll be listening to this CD over and over as the songs, while cool and interesting, don’t drive me mad (in a good way), they all start to sound a bit the same after a while. Nothing truly stands out in my mind except "Sunburn." It’s a great first album, but in the end I’m able to shrug off most of the songs. I know – I don’t get excited because these songs aren’t interesting enough and yet I reject their latest CD for being too weird. What can I say? I’m waiting for the happy balance (or just more songs like "Map of the Problematique").

Half the time I find myself surprised that a song is still playing. They’re all pretty much your typical song length of 3-4 minutes, but I’ve often had moments where I think, “This song is still playing? Gosh, how long is it?” and then look and feel silly. It’s a weird phenomenon.

It’s the kind of music that you’d really have to listen to for yourself before making any solid decisions. I do recommend it, but you have to be able to accept the idea of listening to a mix of alternative, hard, and progressive rock, all seasoned with electronica bizarreness and the occasional classy piano. Whatever floats your boat.

NT

Recommended:
Yes]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Showbiz-671-1639784-176914-There_s_no_biz_like_Muse_s_Showbiz.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Showbiz-671-1639784-176914-There_s_no_biz_like_Muse_s_Showbiz.html Wed, 28 May 2008 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Muse has earned Absolution with this CD]]> Pros: Muse hits their stride

Cons: Some songs may fall out of favor over time (some never made it)

The Bottom Line: I'm still not an avid Muse fan, but I'm happy to find more and more of their songs to enjoy.

I know, that title seems harsh, but after my disappointment with Black Holes and Revelations and the slightly lackluster Showbiz, I’m happy to say that I’ve found a Muse album I enjoy track after track.

Absolution is actually their third album and if you aren’t familiar with the band, here are a few points to know. Muse is from the UK. It’s only 3 guys: Matthew Bellamy (vocals, guitar and piano), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass guitar and extra vocals), and Dominic Howard (drums). They take various forms of rock, from hard to progressive, put them in a blender with electronic sounds and classical instruments and hit crush. Yummy. That means this music isn’t for everyone, something I can attest to and trust me, I have a really wide music repertoire.

If you don’t know my style of music reviewing, by the way, the more interested I am in a CD, the more likely I am to fork over details track by track. Absolution managed to qualify.

1.) Intro – 0:22 Rather unnecessary I think; a bit that could have easily just been included as more of the beginning of the second track since it leads right into it anyway.

2.) Apocalypse Please Kinda funny the CD starts out with Bellamy singing, "This is the end." Bring on the electronica! This song definitely lets you know what Muse is all about in terms of style.

3.) Time Is Running Out – 3:56 Love the snapping fingers at the beginning; this is my favorite song on the CD. I decided that the first time I heard it. From the lyrics to the guitar buildup to the burst of music during the refrains, it’s a cool piece.

4.) Sing for Absolution – 4:54 While I haven’t been too impressed with a lot of Muse’s slower stuff, I kind of like this one, with the echoey, ghost-like quality it has as well as the sharp refrain and overall melody.

5.) Stockholm Syndrome – 4:48 The electronic goodies and piano here take a very otherworldly quality when they get their space between wicked guitar riffs and beating drums. A speedy song, it just goes and goes until it grinds to a halt

6.) Falling Away With You – 4:40 Man, this thing starts off sounding almost happy—it kind of makes you giggle after hearing everything else. Don’t let that fool you; it’s not slow and instead it gets a bit spacey once it hits the 1:15ish mark and rolls on from there.

7.) Interlude – 0:37 Random guitar fuzz. The point of this would be…?

8.) Hysteria – 3:47 This song grows on me more every time I hear it. I started off listening to this CD while doing other things, but the guitar solo caught my ear and it has done so ever since. Now I make a point to skip over to this song. I like the even beat and all the guitar and the refrain, all the way up to the sweet guitar solo. I hum along to this baby.

9.) Blackout – 4:22 The almost classical way this opens may throw some until the lightheaded chorus appears. In its weird way, I like it, from the violin background to the fuzzed out electric guitar. One of the few slow Muse songs I enjoy.

10.) Butterflies and Hurricanes – 5:01 What you may think is another mellow song soon turns into hammering piano and rollicking guitar with plenty of slamming percussion. It isn’t a complete rocker, but it has its moments. And don’t let that trickle of piano fool you—the song’s not over yet!

11.) The Small Print – 3:28 The guitar winds up and drops down as Bellamy sings, occasionally enhancing his vocal power with either louder volume or a backup buddy. Difficult to tell which sometimes, but it’s still fun. A great toe-tapper and seems to combine both harder rock and some more upbeat tones.

12.) Endlessly – 3:49 First time, I glossed over this song. Second time, I watched a music video made to it. This time, while I’m still on the fence, I’m leaning towards the “like it” side. It’s still got a good pace, but it’s a quieter song. A few elements remind me of Mirrormask. Oh, wait, I’m singing along to it now. Guess it’s a keeper.

13.) Thoughts of a Dying Atheist – 3:11 "It scares the hell out of me" is a lyric I tend to hum with and I like how Bellamy just goes into non-words after them in yeah-yeah fashion, it works. The tempo of this whole thing is what I enjoy the most, along with the yeah-yeahs, haha.

14.) Ruled by Secrecy – 4:54 A true-blue slow song, with soft piano and electronic sounds echoing the piano just as softly. The lyrics are almost whispered—probably the quietest Bellamy’s gotten to sing for a while.

This is probably the best overall Muse CD I’ve heard so far, though I still have yet to check out Origin of Symmetry, which is their second album. Each of these songs is different enough to distinguish itself in my ears, as well as avoid being too bizarre or spacey. Remember that happy balance I said I was looking for in the Showbiz review? I think this is it.

While I’m still not blown completely away (I know, I’ve been forever tainted by the sheer awesomeness that is "Map of the Problematique"), I listen to more songs on this CD than Showbiz and Black Holes and Revelations combined. I only skip out on four songs from here, but all the rest I enjoy. They’ve got the rock, the spacey bits here and there, and plenty of skills. For this album, I’m comfortable saying that I recommend it without any reservations. You’d still have to be ready for Muse’s style, but for those that already are, enjoy.

NT

Recommended:
Yes]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Absolution-671-1639783-176913-Muse_has_earned_Absolution_with_this_CD.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Absolution-671-1639783-176913-Muse_has_earned_Absolution_with_this_CD.html Wed, 28 May 2008 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Inspired by a few]]> Pros: A handful of truly awesome songs

Cons: Most songs are not impressive and easily rejectable.

The Bottom Line: I tried. I really did. Hey, at least a few songs really rock the house.

I’m a Doctor Who fan. Big time. I was looking for silly clips from the show on YouTube one day and stumbled upon a fanmade music video. I’m a sucker for a good fanvid so I watched it and oh my god. It was good. What’s more, the song used drove me into a frenzy and I went and got the CD.

I can be slightly impulsive but hey, I thought I was going to be in for a massive treat.

I was sadly disappointed.

Muse is a band from the UK which was a nice changeup and they’re very, very different from a lot of the stuff I’ve heard before. They vaguely remind me of a band, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out the name of them. Muse uses a lot of electronic synth-like stuff along with your everyday instruments like rocking guitars and slamming drums. It’s a cool mix – when it’s done right. The singers of Muse also tend to go slightly high-pitched kind of like the guys from The Darkness. This doesn’t really bother me either since I have music from The Darkness and I enjoy it.

However, 7 out of the 11 songs annoy me or just don’t impress me in various ways. "Take a Bow" is a little too spacey for me, takes way too long to get going, and the whole "Yeah you'll burn in hell" lyric kind of weirds me out. Maybe if I were on drugs it would be awesome, but I’m not, so it’s not. "Invincible" is another song that takes forever to actively go somewhere and also too spacey.

Other times songs sound too thrown together and scattered to really work for my ears like "Knights of Cydonia" (this one actually reminds me a little of Blind Guardian). It’s likely they meant to do that – maybe that’s their style, I don’t know, I’ve never listened to Muse before in my life. Still, it was just way too much for me. Certain songs would come on, like "Assassin" and I would literally cringe and switch songs (which is a shame because I think that could have been a great song with just a bit more tweaking – it’s got some great guitar spots and slightly more mellow areas for lyrics). I just couldn’t take them. I can only take so many bizarre, acid-trip noises before I need to skip to the next track. The funny part is that for a while I left some of them on, but after a few playbacks, I couldn’t take anymore, and removed them from the list.

Other times it wasn’t the chaos, but just the style that I had to skip. Too low and woebegone in a weird way for me to keep around. "Soldier's Poem" and "Hoodoo" are culprits of this. I just look at my watch and think, "Okay, next song please." While "Hoodoo" does pick up slightly, it’s overtly dramatic and annoying.

What’s left are 4 songs are that make this CD semi-redeemable. "Starlight" is the first one, where some of the title actually comes into play in the lyrics, "Black holes and revelations". I like the keyboard and overall melody. It’s slower and a song I’ll hum along to. "City of Delusion" is one of the songs that made it through my last cutting session. It’s the refrain and the inclusion of the strings that kept it safe. I love the strings – any song that brings in strings and works well with them is a winner in my book. It’s got some unique style that I enjoy.

"Supermassive Black Hole" is a song that grew on me. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but I decided to give it an extra chance and now it’s one of my favorites. It really rocks out, but in a slow manner. I love the heavy feel it brings and the lyrics are pretty wicked. "Glaciers melting in the dead of night / and the superstar sucked into the supermassive..." It’s a great warm-up song if you plan to work out and definitely something you can sing along to.

"Map of the Problematique" is the best song on here, hands down. It’s the song I saw with the Doctor Who music video and I freaking love it. I’ve listened to this particular song so many times I should be sick of it – but I’m not. Why couldn’t the rest of Muse’s songs be as awesome as this one?? It is fast, it rules, and it’s got so much tension you could slice into it with a knife. Perfect to write battle scenes to, and every time I hear this song I just want to run. It’s that kind of song. It really gets your blood pumping and your foot tapping. From drums to rollicking guitar and crazy synth sounds, this is a song I’ll crank up and likely go deaf from.

Not too bad, but I’ve heard that other Muse albums are better. The songs I like on here are good enough that I’m totally willing to give Muse another chance. While I don't recommend the entire CD, I do recommend "Map of the Problematique" at the very least.

NT

Recommended:
No]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Black_Holes_Revelations-671-1597594-176917-Inspired_by_a_few.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Black_Holes_Revelations-671-1597594-176917-Inspired_by_a_few.html Fri, 16 May 2008 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Bang! Strum! Shout!]]> Pros: Unique...sort of

Cons: Shortest CD I've ever seen, not all that impressive

The Bottom Line: I'm glad I got this for free because it's definitely not something I (personally) would spend money on.

I’m a Virgin Mobile Insider. What’s that mean? I’m supposed to give my phone company, Virgin Mobile, feedback and do stuff for them. Do I? Well, I’ve had bigger fish to fry in my life than do their marketing for them. Don’t get me wrong – I love Virgin Mobile, even if I don’t get service at my house and would actually have to walk about 100 yards to the west in order to get any, but I’m not stuck in a contract paying $40 a month. I wouldn’t have a phone that way.

Why do I bring this up? Well, you see a few weeks ago Virgin Mobile sent me a CD - Tokyo Police Club’s A Lesson In Crime - and I had no idea why. I’m not one to knock free stuff, but I looked around and realized they send out a CD of the month. Cool. I have a vague feeling I’ve heard of Tokyo Police Club somewhere, but for the life of me I can’t remember where. So, what do they have to offer? Let’s find out.

For starters, here’s who you’ll find in the band: Greg Alsop (drums), Joshua Hook (guitar), David Monks (voice, bass), Graham Wright (keyboards, voice). I have no idea which guy is doing all the lead vocals – it could easily be either guy. Whoever is the “second” voice, so to speak, he’s more like a faint yelling in the background. Each of these songs is ridiculously short, totaling the CD up at a whopping 16 minutes, 22 seconds. Riiiight. Another interesting tidbit of info? This bit of oddness was made in Canada – while I don’t know if all the guys are Canadian, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be. Interesting.

1.) Cheer It On – 1:59 For the love of all that is good and decent – keep your volume down. If not, this may hurt your ears. Whichever guy is singing this time around, he doesn’t seem to be in synch in any shape or form with whatever the band happens to be singing. It seems more like a weird intro than anything – short and I keep hearing “Tokyo Police Club!” It sort of grates on the ears – not a good way to start out.

2.) Nature of the Experiment – 2:01 I’m thinking the weird sound is supposed to be the keyboard – guess it’s programmed on a different sound or something. Very vibratey. Again, not impressed. Everything even remotely related to harmony seems off. Dissonance. Discord. Maybe it’s on purpose?

3.) Citizens of Tomorrow – 2:44 Faint rhythmic clapping starts this one out and things stay even for a bit before going back into the louder stuff, though this isn’t as crazy rockin’ as the others. One of the mellow songs. But I don’t know – the high pitched sharp notes hurt the ears and the guys are just spouting stuff that I’m hardly even paying attention to because I’m so distracted by the instrumentation.

4.) Shoulders & Arms – 2:38 Oh boy, more discord. Have I mentioned yet that the lead singer’s voice isn’t exactly fabulous either? Half the time he’s not really singing so much as half singing, half talking. I don’t even know how to describe this music…

5.) If It Works – 2:04 Ok, this is maybe like they threw this all together at the last minute – I’m really having a hard time understanding the deal here. The keyboard is part organ now, guitar still squeaking away. Drums being smacked all over the place. Cymbals crashing – er, and now the song is over.

6.) Be Good – 2:04 More of the same. The singer is slower, the song is at a medium pace, but the guitar is absolutely going nuts. That’s actually a little impressive, but that’s essentially all the song is – casual singing and psychotic guitar.

7.) La Ferrassie – 2:49 Slower, some semi-high pitched humming in the background – think along the lines of wind blowing through a crack in the door. A little eerie. A slower song – or was. It just decided to kick it up a notch into the area of “much faster” and now it’s just like all the other songs, except for the wind part.

I’m not sure what to do about this CD. I have no idea what to classify it as. It very vaguely reminds me of the Pixies with “Where Is My Mind?” However, they’re much more like the Strokes if you’re familiar with that band. I get the feeling that somewhere there is a group of people that would love this CD – it would be perfect for them. It’s the kind of music that the populace doesn’t get into all that much, but that has a small cult following. Still, I’d like you to keep in mind something – I listen to just about everything under the sun. I have everything from Irish folk music to Xzibit to soundtracks to Nickelback to a few random country songs and plenty of stuff from my parents’ era (REO Speedwagon, Kenny Loggins, etc.). I listen to everything. I just have to like it, and I have a very open mind. This…mmm…not so much.

The weird thing is that it’s not necessarily bad. I know, it sounds weird, but hear me out. Notwithstanding whoever is on lead vocals (it doesn’t say anywhere on the CD), the instrument players have some talent. On one hand, this whole thing might be their style. This might be what they’re going for. Granted, I don’t think it’s going to get them very far, but you never know. But it feels a lot more like a group’s first album – still unfocused, has yet to find their true sound, and is still struggling a little. I remember hearing on of Korn’s first songs and not liking it because it felt the same way. A few albums later they were a hit; they had their sound, each band member was in better synch with the other, and now they’re just find and dandy, putting albums out at a steady pace, me enjoying them, etc. I am willing to give these guys the benefit of the doubt.

All that aside, I get the impression they were striving for at least Average, and they have barely made it. I recommend it, but tentatively. Be sure you know what you like before rushing out and buying it. Personally I think the boys still need to please drive through and try again. Better luck next time.

NT

Recommended:
Yes]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-A_Lesson_in_Crime-671-1639958-177084-Bang_Strum_Shout_.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-A_Lesson_in_Crime-671-1639958-177084-Bang_Strum_Shout_.html Tue, 14 Nov 2006 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Rockin' The Suburbs One Tract Home At A Time]]> Pros: Ben Folds has an immense amount of musical talent; he's a great pianist and songwriter...

Cons: ...the album loses steam towards the middle

The Bottom Line: Rockin' The Suburbs is a great album. Whether you're new to Ben's solo work, or an old fan of Ben Folds Five, you're guaranteed to enjoy this album.

My journey with Ben Folds all began with an animated children's movie, Over The Hedge. While watching the cartoon, I couldn't help but focus on the music playing in the background. It wasn’t a Disney movie, so there was no Randy Newman, but who was responsible for those great vocals?

I remember staying for the credits and to my surprise, finding out that the soundtrack was made up of original songs by Ben Folds. Prior to the Over The Hedge soundtrack, I hadn't heard much of his, or Ben Folds Five, music. A friend of mine was a big fan of Folds, but I'd never heard anything that really caught my attention.

I finally mustered up the courage to look online, and without hearing any of the songs on the album, bought Ben's first solo release, Rockin' The Suburbs (2001) from yourmusic.com (my current online CD dealer). I was a bit worried that I wouldn't enjoy the album, but I was pleasantly surprised once I did.

The album starts off with the piano-driven Annie Waits. It's a bit hard to pin down what genre Fold's music might fit in. The rest of the album, like this first song, is piano based, with a pseudo indie-rock sound, and almost 80's sounding vocals. Sure, this may seem weird, and maybe even bad, but Folds has a way of making it all work. Anyway, Annie Waits is a great starter to the album- a fun, upbeat track that you'll find yourself bobbing your head along to. Zak And Sara gives us the first glimpse of Fold's clever songwriting skills. The song tells us the story of a young couple, Zak and Sara, and their quirks. Somehow, the story is kept in tact while still being musically interesting.

The album suddenly turns sentimental with Still Fighting It, easily one of the best and one of my favorite tracks on the album. The song is very simple, with just piano and Fold's vocals, but it's brilliant. Another story is told here, though it's from the eyes of a father who is encouraging his young son through the ups and down of life. The lyrics here are so wonderfully honest and heartfelt ("you'll try and try/and one day you'll fly/...Everybody knows/it sucks to grow up/...the years go on/and we're still fighting it"), that you'll feel as if you truly are invading on a private moment between father and son. Within the first few tracks of the album it's easy to see that Folds has a way with songwriting unlike most of the today’s popular artists.

Gone immediately picks up the tempo, and reminds me of a doo-wop song from the 50's. This is another great track. The song, about finally coming to terms with a relationship that's ended, is cleverly written ("I know that you went straight to someone else/While I worked through all this sh!t here by myself/And I think that you should spend sometime alone/But if you won't/then you won't"), and has a catchy tune that's easy to sing along with.

Now, if you've read enough of my reviews, you'll know that I'm a sap. I'm a super sentimental person; even the Hallmark commercials can make me cry. But don't let that distract you from the beauty of Fred Jones Part 2. Like Still Fighting It the song is simply composed with piano, Fold's vocals, and light string work, which is all the better to focus on the emotional lyrics. This song tells the story of Fred Jones, a man who has worked at his job at the paper for 25 years, and is now being forced into retirement. Yes, the first time I heard this song (and okay...a few times after), I did cry, but it's hard not to. The story of Mr. Jones is delivered with such sorrow that you'll find it hard not to feel sympathy for the fictional character. Even more so, the story of Mr. Jones is one that many people may be familiar with; I remember my Sophomore History teacher was forced into retirement and how hard it was for her to deal with. The refrain, "And I'm sorry Mr. Jones, it's time", adds to the emotional depth of the track.

The Ascent Of Stan is a song about an ex-hippie. I'm not really sure what to do with this track, actually. It's nice to listen to musically, but just a bit awkward for some reason.

Losing Lisa and Carrying Cathy are both great songs, but for different reasons. Losing Lisa has a catchy beat and chorus, and almost seems like a song from the early 90's. Carrying Cathy is a slower tempo song, but the lyrics are more interesting, as Folds tells the story of someone who seems to use everyone around them. While both of the aforementioned songs are nice, they aren't much compared to some of the stronger tracks on the album. The same could be said about Not The Same, a song so bland that I've never even listened to it all the way through.

One of the few light-hearted tracks on the album is the title track, Rockin' The Suburbs. The song starts off with a funky sounding beat, and Folds comes right in singing, "Let me tell ya'll what it's like/Being male, middle class and white/It's a b!tch if you don't believe/Listen up to my new CD". This song is simply hilarious. Fold sarcastically pokes fun at himself and this track almost seems like an extension of the movie Malibu's Most Wanted. Towards the end of the song Fold sings, "ya'll don't know what it's like/being male, middle class and white/it's gets me real p!ssed off/and it makes me wanna say..." and drops the "F-bomb" with great comedic timing. This song makes it no wonder why he thanks Weird Al Yankovic in his liner notes.

Fired is another great track. Again, comprised of a jaunty piano-based melody, the song draws you in immediately. One of the best lines I've heard in awhile lies in the first verse; "Everywhere I go, damn there I am/And I just want to walk away". Nothing better than a self-depreciating song lyric.

The album closes with The Luckiest, a beautiful ballad. Folds returns to sentimentality here as he admits his love for his significant other in such a sweet and romantic fashion ("and where was I before the day/That I first saw your lovely face/...love you more than I have/ever found a way to say to you"). Everything about the song is amazing; from the tender lyrics, to the simple production (once again, piano and vocals), it's easy to envision this being many couples’ "song".

My first introduction to Ben Folds has been great. Rockin’ The Suburbs is an outstanding piece of work, and I'll slowly start building my collection with the rest of his albums.

Track Listing
1. Annie Waits
2. Zak And Sara
3. Still Fighting It
4. Gone
5. Fred Jones Part 2
6. The Ascent Of Stan
7. Losing Lisa
8. Carrying Cathy
9. Not The Same
10. Rockin' The Suburbs
11. Fired
12. The Luckiest


Recommended:
Yes

Great Music to Play While: Getting ready to go out]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Rockin_the_Suburbs-671-1650024-185643-Rockin_The_Suburbs_One_Tract_Home_At_A_Time.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Rockin_the_Suburbs-671-1650024-185643-Rockin_The_Suburbs_One_Tract_Home_At_A_Time.html Tue, 1 Aug 2006 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ A good Album with Some Fantastic songs]]>
A few months ago I was battling a bit of insomnia flipping through the channels when I happened to stop on the video for Run. The video is an ethereal experience of the guys in the band illuminating various fields and woods with Road Flares. Simple, but like all good things, it worked. I have been humming the tune ever since. Last weekend I was able to pick up the album, and am thoroughly pleased.

The entire "storyboarding" of the album in track sequence was done nicely. The ranges from fast to slow always appear smooth and structured so that there are no sudden jumps. Like a gentle coaster.

Mainly what drew me to the disk, as afor mentioned, was "Run". The album is good, but the second highlight for me would have to be , "Somewhere a clock is ticking." A reviewer from The All Music's Guide said that is was a definite cousin to Coldplays "Clock's". (I love Clocks, have the music, loved it being used in the Peter Pan trailer, saw them perform it in concert and, Wow.) Though there are some hints of Coldplay as far as vocal usage, it's all its own. A small epic, as I like to refer to great songs.

If your into melodic, well organized, sometimes beautiful sounding rock and roll then this is for you. Amazon has provided samples for Run and Somewhere a Clock is Ticking, I hope you'll give them an earshout. ~saos~]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Final_Straw-671-1599749-144841-A_good_Album_with_Some_Fantastic_songs.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Final_Straw-671-1599749-144841-A_good_Album_with_Some_Fantastic_songs.html Tue, 10 May 2005 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ really surprised]]> When Ben Folds' solo release came out, I was tempted to buy it, but put it off because I was worried some of the jokey stuff would still be there. After hearing a few songs off the CD, I just went ahead and got it. All I can say is "WOW". This is one of my favorite CDs of the year. There's still a lot of wit to it, but the lyrics are more provocative, and the songs a little more serious. "The Luckiest" is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. "The Ascent of Stan", "Annie Waits", and "Fred Jones" are probably my other favorites on the CD.

If you are putting off buying this CD because you don't like BFF, don't hesitate. I know there are a lot of huge BFF fans out there, and that's great, but I like Folds' solo stuff *much* better. I can't wait to hear what he puts out next.

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Rockin_the_Suburbs-671-1546400-102654-really_surprised.html http://www.lunch.com/AquariumDrunkard/reviews/d/UserReview-Rockin_the_Suburbs-671-1546400-102654-really_surprised.html Fri, 31 May 2002 12:00:00 +0000