Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience And Grace (2007)

I haven't a slice of bloody cheesecake to offer as to this album's reception due to my year-long hermeticism and lack of contact with the free-wheeling public, but -- I don't think that matters anyway, because no one is going to convince me this album is any good. I think the Foo's had their finest moment in One By One, and then they began to parody themselves. Sure, little vignettes and sonic veerings do surface, but this is the same old schticky Foo. Dave Grohl needs to sub in on another Queens Of The Stone Age album or resurrect his nifty Probot project because he's an excellent drummer; otherwise, hang 'em up guys. The Hatter's milk is beginning to curdle and I'm considering switching to soy if you make me sit through another album. Truth be told, I only got this album for the appearance of Kaki King -- because anything she plays is SUPER FUCKING TASTY, and she doesn't disappoint here, either. Check out "The Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners" -- it's so nice, but so short. Ok, and I do like "Let It Die," and "The Pretender" is like an old friend who won't go away, even after you've sent death threats to his mother. Otherwise, enjoy the ick. D+

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Allman Brothers Band - Eat A Peach (1972)

Okay, so I wasn't too vicious with At Fillmore East. So for those with whom I do not share such feel-good affinity for the Allman Brothers, rest assured, I dig the living pig manure out of Eat A Peach. What's not to like? Duane's beautiful slide renderings, the furious "One Way Out," the glorious intertwining of guitar melodies on "Blue Sky." Oh, hell. Listen to it here; it's my favorite from them.

"Little Martha" is also a touch softer, too, but Duane is in prime form. "Melissa" is also a song that's a bit softer, but still has some great guitar work. The only drawback, ahem, is "Mountain Jam," inexorably pulled from the Fillmore sessions and possibly the weakest point for me. I do think "One Way Out" and "Trouble No More" were better showcases for their live energy, but alas. And I do love jams, I truly do, just not by these guys. Rest in peace, Duane. B+

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Allman Brothers Band - Live At The Fillmore East (1971)

Since I've been an irresponsible blogger and haven't posted in awhile, I'm going to attempt to make good with two reviews, both from the Allman Brothers. Bob, listen up, because one of them is about to be mildly slaughtered. So, let's just chase the rabbit down the hole, shall we?

"Okay, the Allman Brothers Band." And so begins for most one of the greatest live albums ever -- except I must have been asleep during class, because I don't understand why. "Statesboro Blues" is proof enough, for sure, if it could only sustain my interest after that. Really, truly wonderful little cover it is. But come on, these fellows have better stuff than what this mediocre mess of a live album has become. Duane Allman and Dickey Betts are phenomenal guitarists, but the three boogie jamfests left me wondering if I could have taken three pilgrimages to Mecca and back before they were done. And I'm not Muslim. And I love jams. There was simply nothing consistently inspiring in "You Don't Love Me," "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed" and especially "Whipping Post." Really, where were they going other than being novel and fulfilling the pandering of a wanting crowd? Live shows are fantastic, but I'm not entirely sold on most of them being good recordings. Very few can do that. This one sounds like even if you were there it may not have been great, either. C

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Mars Volta - Terminal 5 - January 14, 2008

Let me be very clear. This show consisted of two parts -- the one I hated, and the one I loved. After Cedric and his permed buffon and Omar the cracked-out Hendrix made to the stage with roaring approval, everyone suddenly went deaf. That's because for songs 1-7 of the setlist, the sound check technician thought we were at Wembley Stadium. Much like an atom bomb incinerates everything within blast radius, the Mars Volta destroyed our ears with an adverse Phil Spector wall of sound. Besides the staccato drumming, all I heard was noise and an occasional "exoskeletal" or "humans as ornaments." The saxophonist was blowing, Cedric was wailing, Omar was riffing away -- but I nor the entire tepid audience could hear a thing -- for 90 fucking minutes. I honestly wished for the concert to end.

Then, brothers, it came. "Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus." Oh, bliss, bliss, and heaven. Gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. Gravity all nonsense now. "Cygnus" morphed into an extended jam with Cedric climbing the side balcony and spastically plucking the safety wires. "Drunkship Of Lanterns" was simply frenetic. A new tune, off their soon-to-be-released Bedlam In Goliath, "Aberinkula" was positively sick. And then, to end it all, the sickest Volta song you'll ever hear, they played "Day Of The Baphomets." Cedric says he awoke in NYC to the sound of jackhammers and thought it appropriate to end the show in similar fashion. Nice, nice indeed. Too bad the concert just got started right as it ended. C

Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)
Viscera Eyes
Wax Simulacra
Conjugal Burns
Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus
Drunkship Of Lanterns
Day Of The Baphomets

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (1986)

"Sweetness, sweetness; I was only joking when I said I'd like to smash every tooth in your head. Oh, sweetness, sweetness; I was only joking when I said by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed," so sings Morrissey. Like Sting, he made a name for himself as the vocalist/lyricist in an excellent band (featuring Marquis de Marr, the inscrutable), pumped his head full of pompous snot and tortured the world with his egregious solo work afterwards. But for a brief period of time, Morrissey was splendid. On their third album, The Queen Is Dead, the Smiths unleashed their most complex and textured work yet. First off, Mr. Marr is all over the bloody place, winding and weaving his taut guitar sequences like he didn't know the 80s were supposed to be such dreck. If you don't believe me, listen to "Bigmouth Strikes Again."

Yeah, you know it. This one gets a SUPER FUCKING TASTY from me. "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others," The Boy With A Thorn In His Side" and "Frankly, Mr. Shankly" are superb as well. "Cemetry Gates" -- listen to it, now. You can definitely hear where stellar Brit bands such as the Verve and Radiohead, among others, were influenced. I have very little to say otherwise of this album other than shame on you if you don't have it, and "Never Had No One Ever" is blah. So do yourself a favor and pick up this politically charged, beautifully written, brilliantly played masterwork from the most horrid decade of music known to man. A-

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Beastie Boys - Check Your Head (1992)

Now that the happy from the holidays has been inevitably forgotten, I'm going to get back on the horse and plow and finally post something of mellifluous magnitude. I just looked at the stat counter at the bottoms and noticed many people have been knocking at my door to read the same drivel day-in, day-out without something new to entice them. Meanwhile, behind the facade of an innocent looking bookstore, a certain group of irreverent gentleman nigh on the heels of their neglected Paul's Boutique, came roaring from the ashes of the current music scene (then 1992) with yet another pilfered offering of samples and sounds, and a bit of their self-possessed attitude. Check Your Head is an iffy, irascible assault on the ears, at once familiar and yet still different -- but don't rush to judgment just because I'm not a hip-hop connoisseur; these fellows are famous for a reason, and if "So What'cha Want" doesn't get your attention, I don't know what will. There's a bit of everything here: punk, funk, rap, soul and silliness; but at the end of the day, this isn't the best thing since sliced bread, and had they not had the abundance of samples to use, they would have been like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest -- which is partially why I can't stomach hip-hop: too much sampling. Same with the blues as well as covers that replace original content. So if you want to hear Biz Markie rapping the Beastie Boys name for thirty seconds to the guitar of Nugent's "Homebound" -- it's your cake and you can eat it however you like. But please, cash your chips elsewhere. An exemplary C. And yes, I received permission to sample the clichés.