Rick Springfield: “Jet – Live In Nashville”

Update: I heard this song, by a different artists, at the gym today.  So I looked it up.  It’s originally by Wings.

A digital-only release.  Not the most immediately accessible song, but it is really good.  The bridge is another phenomenal turn of composition by Springfield.  I suppose he’s just trying out new formats, but it’s kind of a shame this didn’t end up on an album.  Stripped-down muscular rock.  Springfield should be doing more of this.  Probably not enough immediate pow to mix, but an easy keep.

Two Starbucks Tracks

Here are a couple more free downloads I’ve picked up via those cards in Starbucks.

City And Colour: “Fragile Bird” – Not bad.  A bit of a slow groove thing.  Pretty sparse instrumentation, but a fat enough keys sound gives it its mood.  The bridge and choruses, with a slow burn while maintaining an uplifting feel, are the highlights.  Might only be like if I had more of the band, but this is good enough to want to keep front of mind, so keep.

Madeline Peyroux: “The Kind You Can’t Afford” – About how she’s poor and there’s a rich “you” in the song.  But she’s got real good lovin’, the kind “you” can’t afford.  It’s got a bit of that cheesy blues feel like Clapton or Bonnie Raitt.  I don’t know why her vocals are recorded so hot, either.  As much as I love 99% solidarity and taxing the ultra-rich, this kind of “your life is empty” attack on them itself seems empty, foolish, and meaningless.  Not crazy about the song, either.  Ditch.

Starbucks Playlist: 10 Songs For Summer

Here’s an entire playlist from Starbucks.  You actually had to buy one of those sugary frozen drinks or something to get it.  It came out in May and we didn’t get summer until roughly August 15th, making the playlist yet another source of bitterness.  God I hate it here.

Unlike most Starbucks selections, with their slant toward singers with novel voices, this seems to be mostly straightforward, pretty good rock bands without too much exciting about them.  If I hadn’t known The Airborne Toxic Event, I would have been thrilled to discover them.  As it is, Matt Nathanson’s and Parts & Labor’s songs were great discoveries and most of the rest were new songs from bands I am vaguely familiar with.

  1. Telekinesis: “Country Lane” – I want to hate this more given my review of their previous album, but I happen to think this one’s pretty good.  Straight out of the Telekinesis playbook.  Like.
  2. Cold War Kids: “Skip The Charades” – Great beginning.  Shouldn’t this be “Skip The Charade” singular?  Otherwise it’s kind of like skipping the game.  Straightforward rock about troubled relationship.  Almost good enough to keep, especially since I have nothing else from this band, but I’ll keep it at like.
  3. Fleet Foxes: “Battery Kinzie” – Jesus I hate Fleet Foxes so bad.  As soon as Robin Pecknold starts singing I fly into a rage.  It’s so wrong.  They are, not my reaction.  But after several listens this may finally be growing on me.  If I’m in a good enough mood, this is like, so we’ll be generous and leave it at that.
  4. Matt Nathanson: “Faster” – Great energy.  Almost has a “Life Is A Highway” vibe, which is another song I initially disliked only to later love.  Lyrics about the object of his desire making his heart beat faster.  Is it a song about his love for a city?   “You’re all night noise/Your sirens howl.”  “You bite my lip.”  I guess the metaphor doesn’t quite hold up.  Keep.
  5. Parts & Labor: “Rest” – Sounds crazy familiar.  Definitely leans on early Pink Floyd, but it’s also just good rock and roll.  Love the chorus.  Where do I know this from?  Mix.
  6. The Airborne Toxic Event: “Half Of Something Else” – It’s encouraging that they selected the best song from their album for the playlist.  I’ll mark it as mix, which it was then, but it’s obviously really a ditch since I don’t need to keep this lossy version around.
  7. Death Cab For Cutie: “Underneath The Sycamore” – It’s fashionable to bash Death Cab For Cutie now.  I don’t really know them, and I’m sure their earlier work was better.  But this song is not bad.  Great chimes sounds in the second verse.  Like.
  8. Peter Bjorn And John: “Eyes” – These guys have never really re-captured the magic of their whistling “Young Folks,” or whatever it was called.  This is fine, but fairly nondescript.  Like “Young Folks” it relies on one little hook repeated, this time a quick seven-note guitar riff.  Like.
  9. Booker T. Jones: “Just A Friend (feat. Biz Markie, Matt Berninger, and Sharon Jones) (Bonus Track)”- Basically a cover of the original.  Hardly any change in the lyrics and, with its gruffer voice, sucked any charm there was out of the original, leaving only the neanderthal misogyny and ridiculously awful lyrics.  Why is he shown where door three is “for the moment”?  Does door three move around?  And why does he add that he met the woman “from the U.S. nation.”  Wouldn’t that information be assumed?  And that’s just scratching the surface.  Ditch.
  10. We Are Augustines: “Chapel Song” – I think I ditched a song from these guys in the iTunes mix.  No, that was Augustana.  Indistinguishable band alert.  Actually this song is better than that one.  “Tear off the forklift/Cuz it’s a bright blue sky”?  There’s no way that word is “photograph.”  Not sure from this song why WNYC’s John Schaefer is all goopy for them, but like.

Rick Springfield: Christmas With You

I have a hypothesis that Christmas music is one of the few areas of the music industry that’s ridiculously profitable now–no royalties, almost straight up profit–and that that’s why it seems every artist’s mother has their own Christmas album.  We don’t need any of them, and we certainly don’t need this one: a Christmas album of Rick Springfield doing 14 standards, almost all of them straight, and one of his own compositions, natch.

Maybe I’m wrong, but you tell me.  Was your Christmas incomplete because you didn’t have Springfield doing “Away In A Manager” the same way it’s always been done?  Or “The First Noel?”  Or “Silent Night,” for crying out loud?  To top it all off, Springfield sings almost every note in his breathy voice he pulls out to sound sincerely affected, and it is so cheesy.  It’s not your voice we love, Rick, it’s your compositions.

Speaking of which, even that fails us on this album.  Springfield’s composition here, “Christmas With You,” is dedicated to all the fallen troops in Iraq, and begins “This night, Christmas seems so far away/Somewhere, are you missing me?/I’m wishing and watching/A star and I pray/To live in a world where we all can be free.”  Just imagine it was done by a modern country star and you’ve pretty much got it.

Like I said, just about all of the standards here are done straight, but there are a few exceptions.  The strings on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” particularly the breakdown going from chorus to verse, are pretty sweet, as is the backing choir.  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” has a doo-wop feel, to bad effect.  “I Saw Three Ships” is incredibly upbeat, and an instrumental “Deck The Halls (With Boughs Of Longboards)” is done as a surf rendition.  If more of the album had been like the last track, this might have been enjoyable.  As it is, though, it’s almost entirely drivel.

In the interest of full disclosure, I hate Christmas.  I hate pretty much everything about it.  Honestly, the best thing about it is that it does a pretty good job of growing the economy.  As far as I can tell, Christmas is about two things: 1) showering kids with things, and 2) trying to rekindle in adults the feelings of closeness they felt with their family in the moments around getting showered with things when they were kids.  I’m a Scrooge who basically just bites his tongue for a week so as not to ruin everybody else’s delusions of cheer.  However, something about listening to this in the dark, driving home on the interstate with my family asleep in the back seat and the car straining under the weight of new toys…I felt some connection to sleepy, exhausted Boxing Days spent traversing the Midwest with my spoils in my youth.  And it was nice.  (But only for that moment.  I resent Madison Avenue giving all of us the same memories and then advertising to those created memories.)  So between that and the few tracks with any redeeming qualities, this disc gets one-half clown higher than my lowest rating.  (Though, in truth, that bonus half-clown is probably because I hate giving anything a rating of just one more than any other reason I can manufacture.)

Rating:
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Like:
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

Notes:

  • This album was hampered by issues where the first notes of a song were often on the prior track, so there was a gap of silence where the song abruptly stopped near the beginning of each song.  It was very annoying, but I don’t think the review would have been much better without that.

Track Notes:

  1. Christmas With You – Awful tripe.  And some crap about wishing everybody could be free.  “My spirit is aching/I want to come home.”  Jesus Christ.  Oh wait, this makes a little more sense since it’s dedicated to all the fallen troops in Iraq.  Still, ditch.
  2. The First Noel – Why?  Why do another version of this song?  Especially one so straight? Ditch.
  3. Hark The Herald Angels Sing – See previous track.  Ditch.
  4. What Child Is This? – See previous track.  Plus, this is such an amazing song, how could you suck all the wonderfulness out of this song?  Ditch.
  5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Okay, this one seems to be right in your wheelhouse.  Maybe a case of a stopped clock being right twice a day.  The strings are done well.  Like.
  6. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – Ugh.  Ditch.
  7. Away In A Manger – Kill me.  Ditch.
  8. O Come All Ye Faithful – Stupid.  Ditch.
  9. Carol Of The Bells – There are hardly even any bells.  It’s like trying to be that Trans-Siberian Orchestra version, but…there’s just so much wrong with that.  Ditch.
  10. Do You Hear What I Hear? – Man, he just picked so many of the worst songs.  Ditch.
  11. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – What’s with the cheese Harry Connick, Jr./Frank Sinatra, Jr. shoo-doo-wop stuff?  Man, even when you don’t play it straight you screw it up.  Ditch.
  12. Silent Night – Wow, really?  Another version of this? Ditch.
  13. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem – Ditch.
  14. I Saw Three Ships – A very upbeat version with some interesting backing vocals.  I still don’t really like it. Ditch.
  15. Deck The Halls (With Boughs Of Longboards) – A surf version.  I’m not crazy about this, but doing something like this with the whole album would have been welcome.  Almost like, but ditch.

Kaada/Patton: Live

Kaada/Patton got four [clowns] for their Romances album when I reviewed that back in the day.  Now that I’ve seen this DVD of them playing the album live at Roskilde in 2007, though, I feel I didn’t lavish enough praise on that disc.  I’ve taken the chance to revisit it while working through this concert and have come to appreciate it more fully.  I hadn’t previously conceptualized the work as a single suite, thinking of it instead as an album of songs.  Seeing it performed start to finish in front of an audience, however, I don’t think it can be taken as anything but a single, epic work weaving modern pop, electronic, and avant-garde art music together.

I really like this DVD but, truth be told, I didn’t like it the first time through.  In fact, I quite detested it.  There were a number of factors that contributed to that, but I think the primary reason was that the middle section, from “Aubade” through “Viens, Les Gazons Sont Verts,” is so challenging, sparse, and nontraditional that, especially in front of a live crowd, it felt more like navel gazing than thoughtful entertainment.  That was also before I’d spent more time with the CD, and I think having that baseline in my mind as the target of what it was “supposed” to sound like helped me realize that they’d really done a fine job of translating much of the more challenging studio constructions into performance-ready material.  (The 16.5-minute DVD rehearsal film extra helped me understand this as well.)

So you end up appreciating this on two levels, kind of.  First, there’s the beautiful, lush, layered synths of pieces “Pitié Pour Mes Larmes” (featuring slide guitar here, which is an interesting translation of a particular studio sound), “L’Absent,” and “Seule.”  And then there’s the more cognitive workout of the blips and bleeps of pieces like “Crépuscule.”  Finally, there’s actually a third level where it all comes together and you integrate the other two levels, appreciating the 52 minutes as a magnificent work of instrumentation, composition, and performance.

It’s really an amazing work and I’m so, so happy I got to spend more time with it.  Maybe if “L’absent” didn’t drag quite as much or “Nuit Silencieuse” translated to a live setting better, this could be five clowns.  I’m at least going to right the wrong of several years ago, though, and give this four-and-a-half clowns, which is a half-[clown] more than I gave the CD and at least what it deserved.

Rating:
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Filed Between:
ISIS (Clearing The Eye) and Mother Love Bone (The Love Bone Earth Affair) in the video section

Notes:

  • Roskilde is, of course, now synonymous with the Pearl Jam tragedy. It looks like they’re in a club during the day, though. There’s a low ceiling and you can see outside.
  • This is in black and white.
  • That guitarist, who’s totally awesome, looks so scary.
  • This whole band rules.
  • John Kaada and the five other non-Patton band members are all Norwegian.  So why are the song titles in French?
  • Names to consider naming Next: Geir, Erland, Hallvard, Børge. Joakim, Rasmus, Jan, Mads, Rikke, Svein, Siv, Reidar, Ove, Rai, Pål.
  • I think the sound, which isn’t bad, but isn’t as lush as the studio, might hurt things here. That middle stuff is hard in the studio, too, but here even the great parts don’t sound as great.  Later: I’ve come to reconcile this as the price you pay for having this performed in a live context.  See the review for my evolution on that.

Track Notes:

  1. Intro – band walking in and all that.
  2. Legless Liss – Not on album.  The bassist pulls off the whistling “cadence from hell.”
  3. Invocation – Here the album starts.
  4. Pitié Pour Mes Larmes – “One is for the money, ….” The guit is doing a slide thing here that I don’t remember from the album. Gives it a country feel.
  5. Aubade – This is probably the hardest point of the show, especially for an audience member who didn’t have the scaffolding of knowing the album available. When it looks like Mike’s singing he’s just making noises with his mouth, and you can barely hear that. The sound is working here, there’s just very little to hear. When they do come back big, it is nice. I don’t know if the length and depth of the quiet stretch is justified, though. There’s also a fake fade out ending followed by yet another big comeback.
  6. L’Absent – Sounds like a recorded backup choir, which I don’t remember from the cd. The sparse quiet part in here, which is basically just the guitarist playing chords slowly for several bars, is too long and just doesn’t hold together live. This is a great DVD, but these sparse parts don’t work in this setting…it’s too hard to stay focused. That’s its biggest liability.  Later: Again, I largely reconciled this after re-acquainting myself with the CD.
  7. Crepuscule –
  8. Viens, Les Gazons Sont Verts – This is the comeback song where they start to make it all work again for the new listener.
  9. Seule –
  10. Pensée Des Morts –
  11. Nuit Silencieuse –
  12. The Cloroform Theme – The other track that’s not on the album. This one’s pretty cool. Credits here, too.  Cloroform is Kaada’s band.
  13. Handwritten copyright notification and warning
  14. Menu

Extras Notes:

  • Rehearsal Film – This is 16:32 long. The sad music (“Seule,” I think) at the end is kind of funny but it also kind of works. Shows them loading into a tent at the end.
  • Photo Gallery – Unnecessary. In fact I think these are stills from the show now that I’ve seen both at least a couple of times. 58 pics.

Tori Amos: American Doll Posse

There’s a certain length of career at which point a recording artist ends up getting the same general review with every new album.  “New direction.”  “Best album in years.”  For every single album.  Pearl Jam is in this category.  Tori Amos is, too.  And for the most part it’s bullshit.  The reviewer only notices that it’s different from the only albums they remember from the artist, a decade or so ago, and they notice it’s pretty good, and they don’t have to remember that the last albums might have been pretty good, too, they just remember they weren’t worth remembering…weren’t great.

However, this really is a new direction for Amos.  According to Wikipedia, she was very intentional about this new direction, too, wrapping up all of her prior career into a box set before embarking on this album.  In contrast to the frequent, deliciously sweet and comforting melodies of The Beekeper, Amos primary challenges the listener here.  Musically and lyrically.

Lyrically, things are very political, with lots of songs about war and calling out President Bush on the album’s first track.  Musically and conceptually, things are all over the place, again intentionally.  There are, I guess, five doll personae that perform these songs.  Looking at their groupings on Wikipedia, I don’t get it.  If I’d been asked to put these songs into five groups, what’s listed there is nowhere near what I would have come up with.

After perfecting what she’d done on From The Choirgirl Hotel, To Venus And Back, Scarlet’s Walk, and The Beekeper, she’s a bit back in her Boys For Pele phase, dishing out melodies like sandpaper and emphasizing overwrought vocal stylings over soothing sounds.  But I don’t want to compare this too much to Boys For Pele, because I have no idea what she meant with that disc.  It still hurts.  And in fact, as the notes below show, I gradually open up to the songs here, track by track, something I’ve been much slower to do with Boys For Pele.

No, it’s not even so much a musical new direction here as that it’s so varied.  It seems stilted in parts, yet it somehow still holds together more than The Beekeper, which I felt wasn’t so much of an album as a collection of songs.  Like its predecessor, this is another long one.  23 tracks over 78  minutes, proving, I don’t know, that nobody has more listening stamina than Tori Amos fans?  More challenging and nearly as long, but somehow it’s more cohesive.

There is one area where this truly is a new musical direction for Amos, though.  There’s more cock rock here, with heavy downbeats and strutting guitars.  A couple of these songs almost could have been done by Aerosmith or KISS.

In general, there’s just more guitars, drums, and hard rawk here.  It’s a general departure from her earlier career, and a stark contrast with the album’s immediate predecessor.  She’s toyed with this stuff before, but never the full-on embrace we see here.  Put another feather-of-the-amazing in Tori Amos’ cap, as she proves yet again just how phenomenal, in the literal sense, she is.

Rating:
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Mix:
“Bouncing Off Clouds,” “Digital Ghost,” “You Can Bring Your Dog,” “Almost Rosey”
Keep:
“Hey George,” “Big Wheel,” “Teenage Hustling,”  “Mr. Bad Man,” “Girl Disappearing,” “Secret Spell,” “Devils And Gods,” “Father’s Son,” “Programmable Soda,” “Code Red,” “Roosterspur Bridge,” “Dark Side Of The Moon”
Like:
“Fat Slut,” “Body And Soul,” “Beauty Of Speed,” “Velvet Revolution,” “Posse Bonus,” “Smokey Joe,” “Dragon”

Track notes:

  1. Hey George – Seems to pretty clearly be about Bush.  I didn’t think this was even all that song-ish at first, but now it seems obviously so melodic and progressive and wonderful.
  2. Big Wheel –
  3. Bouncing Off Clouds – Also pretty immediately accessible (like “Digital Ghost”) and reminiscent of her past work.  Very similar to something off of Girls From The Choirgirl Hotel.  It kinda sounds bad, though, like it should be much bigger but it just ends up getting pinched.  The album is great up through this point.  And even the next three tracks are ones I enjoy pretty well.
  4. Teenage Hustling – Very rawk.  Like Aerosmith could have done this.  Was tough to listen to for a while, but definitely opened up to it.
  5. Digital Ghost – One of the most immediately accessible.  And likable.  It sounds a lot like one she’s done before, though, but I can’t quite reach it….  “Your heart only beats ones and ohs”
  6. You Can Bring Your Dog – This should go on a mix for Boy, who has three of his favorite stuffed dog.  “You can bring your dog/I got three.”
  7. Mr. Bad Man –  Mmm, not crazy about this at first.  She mentions wolves in the prior song and in this one.  “There’s a gold star, on a gendarme/So she asked him, “Hey, can you hold my song?/It’s the one piece, that I got left/So hide it well,” she said”  That verse cinches it as keep, it might not have been otherwise.
  8. Fat Slut – Short.  She does that breathy squeak thing I can’t stand.  Not really into this one.  Only 40 seconds.  Warmed to it quite a bit, but still not an easy listen.
  9. Girl Disappearing – Seems like a bad stretch here.  Not into this.  Boring.  I’ve been thinking the prior album this one is closest to is Boys For Pele and she even mentions palominos here, which I remember her doing on that disc.  War imagery here is riding on backs of palominos, primed for an attack.  Strings part here is pretty cool.  Eventually warmed to entire song, but the boring criticism stands somewhat.
  10. Secret Spell – Seems annoyingly simple.  Does have an annoying edge, but it’s got good parts, too.
  11. Devils And Gods – Very short.  52 seconds.
  12. Body And Soul – Another one with that hard edge like “Teenage Hustling.”  Not as good as that song, but fine.
  13. Father’s Son – Slow and moody.  Quite good.
  14. Programmable Soda – What?  It’s got a Sgt. Pepper feel in the horns.  It’s actually pretty good, but it is so jarring occuring after the serene “Father’s Son.”
  15. Code Red –
  16. Roosterspur Bridge – Slower.
  17. Beauty Of Speed – On the “easier” side of things, but kinda boring and repetitive.  I’ve got it as like or keep, but I think I’m leaning toward like.
  18. Almost Rosey –  I might like this one.  It ended up being one of my faves.
  19. Velvet Revolution – Another short one.  Only 1:17.  Definitely has an obvious Eastern European thing going on.  Did you know the Wikipedia pages for the Velvet Revolution and Ceausescu don’t reference each other?  How is that possible given their geographic and temporal collocations of the former and the downfall of the latter?
  20. Dark Side Of The Sun – Considered ‘like’ for a while, but it feels so pivotal to the album that I don’t think I can do that
  21. Posse Bonus – WTF?  Has some decent enough points, but that intro…ack.
  22. Smokey Joe –
  23. Dragon – Starts very slow and morose.   Very challenging.  Tempted to make it keep instead of like since it’s the last track, the last two have been ‘like’, and this puts a nice bow around it.  But I guess “Dark Side Of The Sun” isn’t a bad wrap up, either.

Fucked Up: Hidden World

All right, well since Blogger completely sucks, let’s try this review over here.  Time after time their stupid web interface lost entire album reviews and notes, and I just couldn’t take it anymore.  There is very little in this realm that is more frustrating than having to rewrite a CD review.  Make it a hard CD on top of that and you’ve really made me angry.

I didn’t even mean to listen to this CD.  First of all, the album in the “best of 2011” playlist was supposed to be Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life.  But this one accidentally got in there since it has a song with that name.  Then a song came up on shuffle (I don’t remember which) and I thought a friend might like it for a Christmas gift, so I decided to give the whole thing a closer listen.  But uff-da, what a tough listen.

This is 13 tracks and 72.5 minutes of a nearly non-stop full-on hardcore assault on your ears.  Wall of sound?  Fuck that.  This is a fucking four thundering horsemen of the apocalypse of sound.  Guitars cranked to 11, a monster of a drummer who just does not stop, and a vocalist who manages to sound like two of the guy from Mighty Mighty Bosstones at his most pissed…pure shouty shout for the entire album.

I almost bailed.  I generally don’t bail on an album once started without writing a review.  Because the point of writing reviews, or one of the points, is to remember why I bailed so if and when I ever come back to it I’ve got a crib sheet.  Or maybe I’d want to listen to this year’s release that’s on so many “best of” lists, and I’d want these notes to remind me what I thought of the band’s debut five years earlier.  But man was I tempted to bail since I’m so fragile lately that all I want is soothing and/or hypnotic.

And it was kind of worth it.  I mean, I like almost all of these songs.  At first they would just pop up on shuffle when I was in the right mood and make me walk faster or jump around or grit my teeth or bang my head.  And eventually I was able to sustain for a couple of hours.  It’s still not something I’ll reach for often, but it’s definitely a strong disc for a hardcore punk album.

Highlights are “David Comes To Life,” which is short and sweet and tacks a grandiose beginning on to a Ramones-y punk song; “Baiting The Public,” which synopsizes the album’s most extreme energy down to about six minutes; and “Jacob’s Ladder,” which, as the penultimate song, puts the cherry on the top of the disc better than the closer, “Vivian Girls.”

The worst stretch is tracks 9 – 11, which is somewhat enjoyable but nearly skippable.  If you wanted to cut the fat, that’s exactly where you’d go.  Just at the point where you don’t think you can take any more of the brutality, they step it up and lose all subtlety, nuance, and dynamism for several minutes.

Lyrically this is anti-Christian or -organized religion or something.  There’s the opener, “Crusades,” then all kinds of apocalyptic references throughout.  “Vivian Girls” screams “Let Opus Dei reign,” and “Fate Of Fates,” in one of the most memorable lines on the disc, says:

They believe the path of the righteous/
Is paved with the lives of six million souls/
I believe that one day all the stars in the sky will explode/
And it will kill us all, young and old/
And we all wind up in the same place when we go

Whether this is in the first person or via a character on the album, I don’t know.  There was a time I would have taken the time to absorb it all, but I think I’ve checked the boxes here.  We’ll call that a long-term project.  Someday when I’ve got nothing to do and Fucked Up is my favorite remaining band about whom I haven’t yet learned everything, I’ll get right on that.  Until then, this album kicks you in the ass hard.  In a good way…if you’re in the mood for it.

Oh, one final note here: this album reminds me a lot of Animal Chin’s first one. Which I also did not get for the longest time…it took many listens over a long period of time and eventually I was able to gradually get a song here and a song there.

Rating:
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Mix: “David Comes To Life,” “Baiting The Public”
Keep: “Invisible Leader, ” “Fate Of Fates,” “”Two Snakes,” “Hidden World,” “Jacob’s Ladder”
Like: “Crusades,” “Carried Out To The Sea,” “Blaze Of Glory,” “Triumph Of Life,” “Vivian Girls”

Song notes:

01 – Crusades – This takes a really long time to get going. There’s kind of a big epic intro going on.

02 – David Comes To Life – Odd that this would be the name of their album five years later. Not that odd, I guess, but kind of unusual. Short and punky in a Ramones-y sense. Oh yeah, this is awesome.

03 – Invisible Leader – Actually changes color for a short period in the middle of the song, going kind of noisy Sonic Youth.

04 – Carried Out To The Sea – The toughest listen up to this point. Just very straightforward thrashy with no subtlety or really melody. Then the last 35 seconds are quiet strings.  Which I really like.

05 – Baiting The Public – I’m liking this on shuffle mixed in with some other stuff. This album is just an awful lot to take all at once. “You ruined life for us/We’ll ruin life for you.”

06 – Fate Of Fates – Starts off invitingly. Just a quiet riff. It’s nice. But before long it is full blast loud and angry and yelly.  Great lyrics about stars exploding.  Those lyrics may help push into keep territory.

07 – Two Snakes – I had this at at least keep, but wow, those verses are hard. So I guess it gets a keep then.

08 – Hidden World – I think they’re musically quoting something else that I can’t put my finger on. Something like “This Train Is Bound For Glory” which has been done by Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash, among others I’m sure. Pretty sure this is not one of the better ones here. But I dug it on the way into work today.

09 – Manqueller Man – I don’t hate this, but it doesn’t quite rise to the level of like.

10 – Blaze Of Glory – Starts off with a female whispering, I actually thought it was Tori Amos for a while since I have this on the same Under Review playlist with American Doll Posse. Not super grabbing me, but driving me nuts, either. “Small-town huckters” lyric reminds me of, who, that New Jersey punk band everybody compares to Bruce Springsteen now? The Gaslight Anthem?  Yeah.

11 – Triumph Of Life – Fast and furious. How do I have this as at least like? I guess I’ll cap it at keep now, too, but wow. There’s no way I keep this. So I like it? I don’t know, I’m switching it to at most like. Oh, it’s got some cool parts at about 2:30. So I’ll like it, okay.

12 – Jacob’s Ladder – So yelly. Starts off with that fast, ascending riff. “Nothing’s more pathetic/Than too much self-restraint” I really like the way it starts. It’s got that crunchy ascending riff, as mentioned above, and at the same time there’s a bit of a free, flangy guitar thing going on over the top of it. Even the yelling part seems maybe a little different than, say, “Fate Of Fates,” which kind of seems like the whole album. Yeah, this song is cool. This is one of the best tracks here.

13 – Vivian Girls – Over nine minutes. The first minute rocks pretty good, I’m kind of surprised I have it as ‘at most like’.