Tori Amos: God

god“God” might be Amos’ best-known single from Under The Pink, a statement to this angry, vengeful beast that maybe, you know, maybe he’d be able to chill out a bit if he let women have a bit more rei(g)n.

She keeps after the Judeo-Christian patriarchy with her version of “Home On The Range,” which quickly morphs from a faithful rendition to one that traces the genocidal history of the United States from Plymouth Rock through the Trail Of Tears. The lyrics are powerful (my favorite line is “America, who discovered your ass?”), and the reverb-induced ringing of the piano’s rich harmonies is a mesmerizing listen.

The CD single closes with two instrumental tracks that are listed under the heading Piano Suite and really might as well have been one track. The last three tracks are much quieter than “God,” and if you dutifully turned up your volume for “Home On The Range,” you should enjoy these last two tracks quite a bit. They feel a bit incomplete, but they showcase a nice range of moods as well as a wonderful interplay between what might be two different characters of the right-hand and left-hand.

Rating:
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Mix: “God”
Really Like: “Home On The Range”
Like: “All The Girls Hate Her,” “Over It”
Filed Between: Amos’ Cornflake Girl and the Little Covers bootleg from the Covering ‘Em bootleg series

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Tori Amos: Cornflake Girl

cornflakegirls“Cornflake Girl” was Tori Amos’ first single from Under The Pink. For the single, she packaged it a couple of very good tracks and one that was half-baked.

The half-baked song is the third track, “Daisy Dead Petals,” and it’s got potential as a whimsical little romp through the piano fields, but the verses are just biding time until the chorus and the bridge.

“Sister Janet” is Amos going after some of the themes she’d really blow open on Boys For Pele and much of her later work. There are shamans, blades, angels, wizards, and all kinds of esoteric references throughout a moody, harmony-heavy tune where Amos expertly creates a propulsive flow that belies the fact she’s only using her piano and her voice.  I keep going back and forth between Like and Really Like, so I’ll be interested to see what I write below.

The disc closer, “Honey,” is the track from this disc that’s had a very successful life as a fan- and Amos-favorite in her concerts. Western-themed in its lyrics, it also features what sounds like a steel-stringed guitar along with some synth strings and Amos’ piano. It’s sultry and even moodier than “Sister Janet.” I like it quite a bit, but I have to part ways with Amos and the fanbase here and say that if there’s a B-side here that stands above the others, it’s “Sister Janet.” (Though “Honey” has the best lyrics.)

Rating:
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Really Like: “Cornflake Girl,” “Sister Janet”
Like: “Honey”
Meh: “Daisy Dead Petals”
Filed Between: Tori Amos’ Under The Pink and God single

Sleater-Kinney: Get Up

getupJumping out of order here as I realized Xbox Music had this single from the disappointing The Hot Rock. “Get Up” doesn’t really bug me that much, and even on my earlier review I conceded it was close to open, but I gave it broken then so it gets it again here.

“By The Time You’re Twenty Five” [sic] is another one where if I pay attention during the right parts I dig it pretty well, but if I perk up during the out of key whiny part I’m pretty upset. Thankfully the first 75% of the song is dominated by the better parts, so, even though the last 25% is just meh, this borderline track gets an open heart.

“Tapping” is simultaneously the best (no really annoying parts) and worst (lackluster) song on the single.

Two clowns may be high, but I don’t want to spend too much time debating it with myself.

Rating:
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– “By The Time You’re Twenty Five,” “Tapping”
– “Get Up”
Song Notes: After the jump
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Tad: Salt Lick/God’s Balls

A while ago, Tad singer and guitarist Tad Doyle tweeted something about how a snare drum should sound like an ominous thunder clap. I like my snare sound tight and fast, so I didn’t really get it even though Tad is one of my favorite bands. Now that I’ve gone back to listen to this collection of some of their earlier work I get it. A big part of Tad’s sound is the pummeling of a snare drum that sounds almost like an extra punchy tom.

Salt Lick/God’s Balls, as its name suggests, combines two earlier Tad releases on Sub Pop. The first six songs are the Salt Lick EP and the last seven are culled from the ten songs that made up the God’s Balls LP. In between the two you’ve got the “Loser” single. Yes, that’s the inspiration for the Sub Pop “LOSER” shirts.

Somewhat surprisingly, this mash up works really well as a whole. The sequencing isn’t quite right, for obvious reasons (you could probably have a superior experience just putting it on shuffle), but conceptually and sonically it all works together. One thing that doesn’t make sense about this release is how it’s missing three tracks from God’s Balls. This came out in 1990 on CD and cassette only, so it would have been no problem to fit those in.

Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, especially the former, are often held up as the metal sides of the grunge scene. Tad’s there, too, but in more of a dirty, grimy, Cookie Monster-vocal kind of way as opposed to the arena-friendly sustained chords and melodically hooky guitars of the other two. Tad’s kind of like Sex Pistols meets Melvins. This collection could use a few more hooks, but that’s asking something of them that they’re not. This is a fantastic set of music.

Rating:
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Mixers: “Wood Goblins,” “Potlach,” “Loser,” “Satan’s Chainsaw”
– “Axe To Grind,” “High On The Hog,” “Glue Machine,” “Behemoth,” “Pork Chop,” “Helot,” “Sex God Missy,” “Cyanide Bath,” “Boiler Room”
– “Hibernation”
Filed Between: T-Ride (T-Ride) and Tad’s 8-Way Santa
Song Notes: After the jump
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ISIS: Not In Rivers, But In Drops

Another ISIS single from the In The Absence Of Truth album. Just three tracks, covering the same two songs that were the source of the “Holy Tears” single. It’s basically the inverse of that single: album track, other song remixed, title track live.

“Not In Rivers, But In Drops” is about as good a song as “Holy Tears,” maybe a little bit better.

The remix of “Holy Tears” contains a ridiculously long part where very little happens except for a keyboard drone and a guitar part that plays nothing but single tied whole-notes. There’s also an ending consisting of another ridiculously long drone. Good enough source material to earn an open heart, but the boring section is pretty inexcusable.

And the live track is like all of their other live stuff: sung off key with bad sound.

Rating:
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– “Not In Rivers, But In Drops”
–  “Holy Tears (Remix)”
– “Not In Rivers, But In Drops (Live)”

ISIS: Holy Tears

holytearsI’m one of the most gung-ho CD people I know, and I have a really hard time justifying this CD’s existence. And while it’s got its quality issues, I don’t think that’s the primary reason I don’t like it.

As a single, it’s three tracks. The first track, “Holy Tears,” is from the mediocre (okay, bad)  In The Absence Of Truth, and while it did get a keep rating there, due to some good parts, it’s really not a good song on the whole. With way too many slow, boring parts it hardly qualifies as a “single.” Then you’ve got a Melvins/Lustmord remix of “Not In Rivers/But In Drops,” which is pretty good, but again the source material is a bit meh. Then there’s “Holy Tears” again, live, and sounding awful.

Oh, but wait. It costs $9.97 on Amazon.com.  I guess it comes with a video I’d never watch even if I did have the CD. So there’s a song from the album, a pretty good remix, and a s**t live version of the first song. All for $10.

Gee, why is physical media dying? Appropriate that it’s ISIS at their most bloated, too.  Good riddance to you and the petroleum product you rode in on.

Rating:
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– “Holy Tears,” “”Not In Rivers, But In Drops (Remix by Melvins/Lustmord)”
– “Holy Tears (Live)”

Satchel: Mr. Pink

mrpinkI’m having some serious cognitive dissonance listening to this. I can’t believe I didn’t get “Mr. Pink” down as a full heart when I reviewed EDC. I mean, it’s not a total slam dunk, but I have no hesitation at all about wanting to share its full, gorgeous sound of layered Shawn Smiths and crunchy guitars.

Well, I’d been thinking about making full heart a bit less restrictive, making it closer to something meaning the combo of mix+keep categories of old instead of just mix. So this seems like a good enough time to make the switch. Important announcement: Please see the last two sentences. That will create a volume (and therefore time) problem when it’s time to create the end-of-year mixes, but let’s go with it, huh?

“Nice Guy Eddie” and “Vic Vega” (you see the Reservoir Dogs theme continues) are also great, though both are much more demo-ish. They feel like great ideas that haven’t quite taken that last step or two through the editing process to get that final releaseable-song product. They kind trail off at the end with a bit of a jam, no vocals, and instruments gradually dropping out. “Vic Vega” in particular should have been resurrected as something more deliberate.

Anyway, it’s all very nearly perfect.

Rating: Clowns for copying only, no rating implied
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– “Mr. Pink,” “Vic Vega”
– “Nice Guy Eddie”
Filed Between: Satchel’s EDC and The Family