Ten Commandos: Ten Commandos

tencommandos

Wouldn’t it be awesome if Alain Johannes got together with Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron of Soundgarden? You don’t have to wonder, because it happened and, yes, it is awesome. Dmitri Coats is the second guitarist, and Mark Lanegan joins the group for the first track, because that’s what Mark Lanegan does.

This is basically an Alain Johannes album but with the best drummer he’s ever had. Even guest vocalist Nikki Costa on “Come” sounds an awful lot like Johannes’ late wife and bandmate from Eleven, Natasha Schneider. The songs are moody, in minor keys, and have great, occassionally soaring melodies over interesting harmonies and tricky rhythms.

Honestly, I’m not sure what more there is to say. This is Alain Johannes’ aesthetic through and through. He’s not breaking any new ground for him (save, notably, for the wacky guitar antics by Peter Frampton on “Sketch 9”), but he’s still waiting for the rest of the world to catch up to the new ground he was treading over 20 years ago. It’s heavy, it’s sweet, it’s beautiful. If you ever wished there was another Eleven album, you should definitely check this out.

Rating:
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Mix: “War On The Peace”
Really Like: “You Might Forget,” “Sporthalle,” “Four On The Floor”
Like: 
“Staring Down The Dust,” “Outermost Sky,” “Come,” “Sketch 9” “Aware,” “Invisibility”
Song Notes: After the jump Continue reading

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Eleven: Eleven

elevenAlain Johannes, in an interview on Dig Me Out, talked about how their producer on Awake In A Dream didn’t capture how heavy they sounded. This is much heavier, and much better. There’s a ton more low end, a paucity of high end, and a crunchiness to everything that was missing from its more glossy predecessor. Johannes and co-vocalist Natasha Schneider are completely in sync.

If there’s any place where this album falls short, it’s in melodies…kind of. The melodies are all superb, but due to the heavy, deep sound and the fact that the vocals are way back in the mix, the melodies don’t jump out and carry a song. I’m pretty sure that’s intended, but  after just a few listens it’s the aspect that sticks with you the most and makes the album a bit of something you have to work at.

Truth be told I’m kind of stretching to justify a rating of only 4.5 clowns…because it just feels like a 4.5 clown album. Well, I feel like it’s 4.5 in the first half and then a full five over the course of the second half.

Rating:
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– “Ava Tar,” “Slinky,” “Heavy”
– “Crash Today,” “Reach Out,” “Towers,” “Hieronymus,” “Let Down (Left Out, Laughed At),” “Yes, Alright, “Runaway”
Filed Between: Awake In A Dream and Eleventh Dream Day (Beet)