The Med ch 8- Corrine Bailey Rae?!

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As far far as I can recall, there’s no form of any remotely interesting backstory connected to this.  I picked this up in 2006, so I was pretty far removed from my songstress phase; I was roommates with this guy Hammer, who was a huge Atmosphere fan, and a bit of a metalhead, put me onto God Forbid!

Cant remember for the life of me what happened here.  It may have been a commercial I saw and said “dayum, good lookin!” And went and bought it. Whatever it was, I’m glad I did, cuz I am just buttery for this girl’s voice.  She’s got a lot of talent, but that wasn’t the hook.  It’s the softness, in that Norah Jones/ Aaliyah kind of way; there’s an obvious youth to it, a little girl singing love sings and such. ‘Put Your Records On’ I’m not particularly crazy about, just because of the poppiness of it, so I find my value in ‘Enchantment’, ‘Call Me When You Get This’, and ‘Another Rainy Day’, my favorite.

And the accompaniments are pretty great. Not too pop, not too much R&B; like Floetry I guess, with more of an easy going feel. I put this on last night and didn’t want to go to sleep, I was enjoying it so much.  So let’s say, 43/50, it’s soothing and pretty sexy.

love it hate it, whatcha think?

As always, thanks for reading!!

 

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

The Med ch 7- BFMV

imageI was telling my misses this morning about the collection of Bullet For My Valentine t-shirts I had a couple years back; it was only eight or nine, but I was building. She didn’t care.  I don’t know why, I just think they’re really cool. And, as coincidence would have it, Hand of Blood is up as I’m making my way through the medium book.

It’s only a five track EP. It contains tracks that are found on The Poison.  But this one came first. And it’s pretty good! ‘Hand of Blood’ is definitely my favorite, the bridge in the middle just rocks pretty damn good.  And although I feel for anyone that has to fill in for Matt Tuck (except for maybe Zakk Wylde), there’s not much of an element of danger, daring.

Sure, it’s their first offering, and it was well received as being at the top of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal heap. Unfortunately for them, they showed so much growth, musicianship so greatly improved by way of Scream Aim Fire and Fever (Temper Temper was meh), that I put this on every once in a while and smirk a little.

But it isn’t completely their fault.  I have since found Sylosis.  But again, this is a pretty good record, and I surely recommend it as a BFMV starting point, 39/50. I would use the Guitar Hero Bonus here, from World Tour, but that fuckin’ song makes my fingers pissed off.

Love it, hate it, too attached to Trivium? Let it be known!

As always, thanks for reading!!image

 

The Med ch 6- Jazzmatazz

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Being a skater, one of my most favoritest pastimes is watching videos, engrossing myself in the accomplishments of the pros.  I tell you what, watching a Varial Heelflip Backside Nosegrind is crazy impressive in its own right, but watching Cairo Foster do it is crazy. And don’t even get me started on Marc Johnson….it’s kind of embarrassing to see him do……anything and make it look like all he did was think it.

Anyway, I was in straight-up-hip-hop mode in high school, and I lived next door to my friend Zach, who also skated.  He was good friends with Nick, one of our local heroes at the time.  So there were a lot of days Zach, Nick and I would chill out at Zach’s house.  It was there, watching Element’s Third Eye View for the first time.  A little way into it was Kenny Hughes’ part, complemented by a Gangstarr song.  I hadn’t heard much Gangstarr at that point, but in the same week I heard ‘Work’ a la Kenny, and ‘Above the Clouds’ from Steve Olson’s part in Shorty’s Fulfill the Dream.  It was great music, so I really took a liking and became a Gangstarr fan. That was ’99, so when Full Clip came out I snatched it up quick.  Then I started bringing in stuff from his constituents- Jeru Tha Damaja, Lil Dap, The Group Home.

In 2002 I picked up Jazzmatazz Vol 3: Streetsoul, and I thought it was great from my very first listen.  It’s pretty much a compilation, and I think that while  Guru is one of the great ones, it’s the variety that makes this stand out.  And that’s great, that’s Mission Accomplished, cuz it’s a showcase; to put on jazzy Soulquarians like  The Roots, Erykah Badu, Macy Gray and Bilal (HUGELY underrated); crooners like Angie Stone, Donell Jones, an angel named Amel Larrieux, and Craig David (remember him?);  producers like Pharrell, the late Jay Dee, of course DJ Premier, and even legends like Herbie Hancock!!  Times past were also represented by Isaac Hayes and Reggae king shit Junior Reid.  It’s a sort of study on artists collaborating for an end product that is bigger than the lines drawn by region, genre, style, even era; it’s a modern ‘Great Day In Harlem’……..well, it could have been if XXL hadn’t made ‘A Great Day in Hip Hop’ in 1998.

 

1958

1958

1998

1998

So I think this is a really great compilation, 42/50.  I still love it, twelve years later.

Love it, hate it, who the hell’s Guru? Lemme know!

As always, thanks for reading!!

The Voice. 1961-2010 RIP

The Voice.
1961-2010 RIP

The Med ch 5- Dream Theater

image   Hearing Dream Theater for the first time in 2009 (GH Bonus spoiler!) led me onto a path where I realized I like my guitar-driven music really proggy.  Not King Crimson proggy, though; that’s about my limit.

anyway, once I was cemented in DT fandom, I picked up Dream Theater’s Greatest Hitwhich I thought was a great sampler of their career.  But one day perusing racks at a store I saw this Black Clouds and Silver Linings Special- a 3-disc for fifteen bucks.

BRAIN: Hey, I love Dream Theater!

BODY: Dude, we’re already out of the store. We bought it that fast.

It starts with ‘A Nightmare to Remember’, a chilling tale spun around a horrific car crash told from not one, but two perspectives.  And in the role of storyteller, these guys wreck shop.  It sets the overall tone immediately with the slow heaviness of the intro that proclaims the certain doom that is to come.  It proceeds to trot along, laying out the scene; and a huge shift happens once the crash occurs.  The tone of the song starts as pensive, but upbeat, and then really slows to a crawl, with piano and guitar tiptoeing through the confusing moments of waking up in a hospital.  From what I can tell, anesthesia plays a role as well, because the song quickly dissolves into this sort of wild nightmare ride a la Rudess/Petrucci, the violent, disturbed, drug-induced sleep of the victim.

Near the end, the devil makes an appearance, lamenting over how he was unable to claim a single life.  I thought this was unimpressive at first look, but the musical changes throughout make an impactful, dynamic story.

The rest of the album is that ‘light’ DT that is so often leaving me wanting more. ‘A Rite of Passage’, The Shattered Fortress’, and especially ‘The Best of Times’ are fantastic freaking songs, but it just isn’t there.  Possibly because my baselines by which all other Dream Theater songs are judged include ‘Panic Attack’ and Sacrificed Sons’, or ‘Portnoy Attack’, if you will.

And the first disc of the Special ends with ‘The Count of Tuscany’. I came across a fellow blogger/DTer that wrote a review just for this song, and I’d say it’s damn good!

The second disc was a super bonus, all covers! First is Rainbow’s ‘Stargazer’, and, let’s face it, Rainbow is just about as top-shelf as it gets. Next is ‘Tenement Funster/ Flick of the Wrist/ Lily of the Valley’ by Queen, which stands tall alone, but if it ain’t Freddie….

After that is a damn gem, a freaking trip, in ‘Odyssey’, originally by Dixie Dregs. Violinist Jerry Goodman is the star of this piece, he gets his baby to really sing, and the progression through the whole thing is marvelous. Next is a Zebra cover, ‘Take Your Fingers From My Hair’. It has a whimsical air to it as it builds, and grooves HARD once Mike P’s feet get to flickin’.

‘Larks Tongue in Aspic Pt 2’ is….you remember in the Ninja Turtles movie when the guys are in the sewer, fresh from kicking tail, and they’re trying to come up with words to describe their awesomeness? “A-ca-pell-a!” And “Par-a-stroika!” go perfectly here. This is John Myung’s song, and he really puts some pepper on the whole track with his bass. Highlight.

Last track covers Iron Maiden’s ‘To Tame a Land’, and this one flat out rips. James LaBrie belongs in this song. And somehow Petrucci, Rudess AND Myung manage to channel Steve Harris and Adrian Smith in a big way. Portnoy puts some serious punch on the bridge before it all breaks loose in the way we love our Maiden songs to do. I have to have a cigarette after I play this one, it’s SOOOOOO good.

All said, this is not a really fantastic album, so I’ll slap a 35/50 on it. But here it is, the Guitar Hero Bonus of 10 points, and a special Iron Maiden Bonus of 20 points! The covers disc does a lot to really save Black Clouds and Silver Linings from dropping too low in the pile. l

Love it, hate it, DT inexperienced? Let me hear it! As always, thanks for reading!!

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The Medium Book ch 4- Aesop Rock

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I’ve been putting this off as long as possible today.  So all you Csaba Seres out there in the world of music nerdery, take notice: I got nothin’.  If some music mag ever gets an application from me, burn it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a fair amount of Jukkie in me (Definitive Jux devotee) and have pretty much since Daylight, but when it comes to Aesop Rock, I’m just not all there.  I love the unique qualities of his voice, his style, his cadence- all present and accounted for on 2003’s Bazooka Tooth.  Producers Blockhead and El-P pepper in some actually good beats into a trough of otherwise ill-fitting ones.  ‘N.Y. Electric/ Hunter Interlude’ and ‘Super Fluke’ pretty much round out the list for me.

So I suppose I have a little bit of input.  But it stops there, true believers; the song could be produced by a phalanx of The Alchemist, Scott Storch, 9th Wonder, Madlib, MF Doom OR Grimm, Just Blaze, 88 Keys and Evil Dee; the album could be cut from Titanium or cheesecloth or whatever is trendy or dope or politically relevant to the state of the music industry at the time; it don’t matter.  Because I hear Mr. Rock…….

….but I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.

 

Years of studying  would help.  I joke, but for serious, I have to put so much effort into interpreting his ideas (and that’s not even stringing them together), I can’t hear the music.  And when I vibe out on the music, well it may as well be Rosemary Clooney, I don’t hear it.  To further illustrate check out the analytics that went into just one song.  http://rapgenius.com/Aesop-rock-daylight-lyrics

Certainly not one of his great ones, Bazooka Tooth pulls  25.

Love it, hate it, understand him more than I? Let’s tawk!

Always, thanks for reading !

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The Medium book ch 3- M A S T O D O N

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I became a big Mastodon fan in ’07-08, stuck in Baghdad with nothing but time on my hands.

Let’s discuss cavemen for a spell, shall we?

If you and I happened upon homo erectus in passing, what would he look like? What would he sound like, what mannerisms would he have?

Would you find him inspiring, or terrifying?

Okay, maybe I’m reaching a bit, so I’ll rephrase: if there were ever a time where a normal-type person might begin to wonder about and ponder and search to find a glimpse of their more basal self, and I were asked to offer suggestion, I would say “Here, take this Call of the Mastodon for a few days”.

There isn’t a single aspect of a single track on this album that doesn’t brim and gurgle with something primal, savage. Troy S. Doesn’t lick at his bass as much as he flails  hard at it.  ‘Battle at Sea’ is but one example.  Brent H. and Bill K. on guitars, they just sound brutal; there’s an unforgiving sloppiness that belongs right where it is.  And Dailor on drums, he certainly didn’t show the polish he does now, but I think there were huge differences in his style that aren’t there anymore, differences that further illustrate the primitive imagery this music provides. There are also more thrashy moments, blast beats and speed picking, which are pretty unexpected, and cool to hear anytime.

‘Deep Sea Creature’ stands over me and screams “CAAAAAAAAVEMAAAAN METAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!”  Trivia point: Mastodon were a five-piece at that time, with vox Eric Saner.  So much aggression, and a lot of noise, too, at least to my ears.  ‘Slickleg’ is another of these, a midnight fire dance drunk on contaminated meat.

The intro monologue snippets on songs like ‘We Built This Come Death’ and ‘Shadows That Move’ add this underlying creepiness, that I think has transformed into an essence that is very basic to Mastodon’s M.O., but in these earlier times- pre- Leviathan, I’d say- were less of a creative ideal and more of a device to intensify their image. I’m not at all against these, in fact, I remember them as much as I remember the songs themselves.

All things considered, I give Call of the Mastodon 41/50. It’s hunter’s music; and while it is absolutely powerful in its own right, it’s nowhere close to the Mastodon that has come from it.

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Love it, hate it, questions, comments, share a firewater with me?

and thanks for reading!!

\m/

The Medium Book ch 1- “Studioforce”

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There have been a few moments over the last few days where I hit a wall trying to decide which of my albums to write about next, and my brain becomes this ugly, unintelligible mess of thoughts. It reminds me of a description my old friend Stacy Davis once gave, “throwup and rice”.

I was able to organize myself, however, after eyeing one of my CD books and thinking, well, why don’t I just use what’s there? It makes it terribly easy- I’ll just go through the sheets, one disc at a time. Bingo.

First lesson: Dragonforce’s Ultra Beatdown.
I was first inspired to look into this group of power-metal powerhouses by my good buddy Austin in 2006. I just happened to be in town on leave for his birthday, so I shot over to his place for pre-festivity festivities. We shared some brew and chatted, eventually about music. He played some TV on the Radio, which I had heard OF at the time but hadn’t listened to; then in a fit of frenzy he suddenly puts this on this on, this freakishly-fast-power-ballad-symphony-metal. He then progressed through a series of power poses with his beer as he told everyone how awesome Dragonforce was. It was funny shit, no doubt; it was doubly funny when I came back the next year with Dragonforce t-shirts.

I have to be honest; I think these guys are really great musicians, supremely talented, based on the level of precision alone needed to pull off music of this magnitude. It’s fast, it’s noisy, perfect for speeding down the highway in my Mustang. But I don’t really connect with it. Ultra Beatdown has some songs that are quite stellar, musically; but there are an overage of elements, I think. The chorused ‘whoa-oh-oh-oh’ parts scream lazy more than anything else. And the guitar solos- I really can’t tell when it’s Herman Li and when it’s Sam Totman- have this tone that is so similar to the tone of Vadim’s keytar I sometimes find myself confused as to which instrument I’m hearing. ‘A Flame For Freedom’ is actually a great song to me. ZP Theart has a top-shelf voice and the slower tempo allows it to shine through the usual sonic blitzkrieg.
That said, the sonic blitzkrieg is the ‘Force’s bread and butter, and ‘Inside the Winter Storm’ is a perfectly placed reminder of what you signed up for by putting in this record. A recommitment of sorts, to sit back, strap in, and

*whoa-oh-oh-oh!*

Christ, these clowns just can’t help themselves.
The instrumental breaks in nearly all the songs are sweet, though. Just close your eyes, and try to let the shredding paint pictures that aren’t……….just…….EPIC.

I’m gonna go with a 39/50 on this album, because to be quite frank, while it’s good for what it is, it certainly is NOT the best of what Dragonforce has to offer.
You know what, I’m gonna give it a 10 point Guitar Hero Bonus. Because I absolutely LOVE Guitar Hero, which is how I became really familiar with the band; only the universe knows how many weeks my no. 1 Beaker and I wasted trying to survive Through the Fire and Flames on Expert.

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Love it, hate it, what do you think?!
And thanks for reading!