Monday, May 29, 2006

THE ELEVEN: Best Southern Rock Bands Country Radio Won't Play

Country radio is not country. They are pop. If they were really country, they would be playing songs about putting it to the man not licking his ass. Here are the eleven best "real" southern bands that country stations should be playing but don't have enough country to do so. Or because Jesus told them otherwise.

1. Drive-By Truckers
2. Son Volt
3. Lucero
4. Songs: Ohia/Magnolia Electric Company
5. William Elliott Whitmore
6. Slobberbone
7. Old 97s
8. Lambchop
9. The Bottle Rockets
10. Calexico
11. Steve Earle

THE GOOD: Stephen Malkmus - Self-Titled

He's a retro review from 2001.

When influential bands break-up, the members tend to go off and do completely useless things. For example: Jimmy Page formed the Firm (blech), Krist Novoselic decided to run for Washington St. Lt. Governor (the huh?), and don't even get me started about the Faith No More fellas.

Ex-Pavement lead singer Stephen Malkmus has learned from his peers. Over the years, he has stolen away Pavement demos, storing them up for the moment when he would need them to continue his career. Well, today's the day that he needs them. The result is one of his best efforts ever.

1. Blac – Sounds like something that could have been on Terror Twilight, except for the fact that it’s better than anything from that album.

2. Phantasies – Very cool David Bowie-esque number.

3. Jo J – A rocked song about Yul Brynner’s bald head with a cool sing-a-long chorus of “ooohh weee heee.” You can never go wrong with one of those.

4. Church On White – A sincere romantic waltz that has more in common with Wilco than Pavement.

5. The Hook – It’s Pavement, that you can dance to!

6. Discretion Grove – Straight-forward rock. Not something you would expect to hear from Malkmus but gosh darn it, he pulls it off.

7. Troubbble – Imagine Pavement with a moog thrown in. Seriously...

8. Pink India – A simple acoustic track with a touch of Modest Mouse.

9. Trojan Curfew – It’s called sensitive indie rock.

10. Vague Space – A good song for a road trip if it wasn’t 30 seconds long.

11. Jennifer Aand The Ess-Dog – Pure Pavement.

12. Deado – Something from the weirder side of Beck. If Beck had been in Pavement.

How this album ranks against Pavement’s other releases…

1. Crooked Crooked Rain (A)

2. Slanted and Enchanted (A-)


4. Wowee Zowee (B+)

5. Terror Twilight (B)

6. Brighten The Corners (B-)

Your tracks...

1. Keep The Faith (live)
2. Liesurely Poison
Amazon: Stephen Malkmus - Stephen Malkmus

Sunday, May 28, 2006

THE ELEVEN: Best Songs About War

Today's a day of rest and relaxation as we remember our heroes who fought bravely in battle to defend the honor and prestige of this country. So, for everything war has been to this country, here's a list of the 11 best songs having to do with war.

1. Masters of War (Bobby Dylan)
2. War (Bobby Marley)
3. Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
4. Life During Wartime (The Talking Heads)
5. Rooster (Alice in Chains)
6. War Pigs (Black Sabbath)
7. With God On Our Side (Robert Dylan)
8. Civil War (Guns N' Roses)
9. Let Them Eat War (Bad Religion)
10. Bulls on Parade (Rage Against The Machine)
11. Disposable Heroes (Metallica)

1. Bob Dylan - With God On Our Side
2. Talking Heads - Life During Wartime (Live)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

THE ELEVEN - Best White Stripes Songs

It's Memorial Day weekend and what better way to celebrate than with a list of the 11 best songs from the White Stripes.

  1. Seven Nation Army (from Elephant)
  2. Dead Leaves And the Dirty Ground (from White Blood Cells)
  3. Apple Blossom (from De Stijl)
  4. Truth Doesn’t Make A Noise (from De Stijl)
  5. Hotel Yorba (from White Blood Cells)
  6. Fell in Love With a Girl (from White Blood Cells)
  7. We’re Going To Be Friends (from White Blood Cells)
  8. Black Math (from Elephant)
  9. Hypnotise (from Elephant)
  10. The Denial Twist (from Get Behind Me Satan)
  11. Death Letter (from De Stijl)
Tomorrow...the eleven best songs about war...(Tuesday back to the reviews)

THE GOOD: The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers

Driving in today's world sucks. There are three things that practically ruin the experience. Slow drivers who don't know where they are going, people driving while trying to find a number in their cellphone, and road construction. All of these factors combine to make getting from one place to another one of the most miserable experiences of the day. If they all would die, life would be a much happier place. Luckily some genius invented a way for us to hear music in our cars. While driving fast on an open road, Pearl Jam's "Rearview Mirror" is king. If you're down by the ocean on a nice summer's day, Public Enemy's "By the Time I Get To Arizona" fits the bill like a glove. So when an album comes out that helps make that horrible commute a tad better, it's something to take note of.

Intro to the fresh offering by the Raconteurs. Regardless of who else is in the band, this is Jack White's side project. Sure, lesser-known Brendan Benson is in the band, too. But unless you worked for a college radio station sometime in the last don't know who he is. The Raconteurs pick up where the White Stripes rarely delve. Straight-up rock music. Where the White Stripes might be a good band to listen to on a winding drive through a mountain forest, the Raconteurs are a band that are primed for that drive on an open freeway at 11 at night.

The music is raw but restrained. It's harsh but refreshing. It's only draw-back is the lack of chemistry. Where the White Stripes have had ten years to refine their sound, this band is still getting to know each other. But that's a good thing. They sound like they are having fun. So many times, when musicians get big they begin to phone in their performances. Not here. Everyone sounds like they are reborn, getting a second chance at starting from the beginning. And if anything, they sound like they are loving it.

1. Steady As She Goes - Probably the most White Stripes sounding offering on the disc. It feels like an a track that would fall somewhere between White Blood Cells and Elephant. The perfect song to start your road trip.
2. Hands - Broken Social Boy Soldier Scene. A good song for arriving at a new town and slowly checking out the scene.
3. Broken Boy Soldier - If Jack White made a deal with the devil, then the two of them co-wrote this song while rockin' on a back porch at the stroke of midnight. Would fit the mood being lost on a country road late at night.
4. Intimate Secretary - You know all those indie bands trying to sound indie...this sounds like they are trying to sound like that but never got past the demo stage. Not a song you want to be stuck in traffic listening to.
5. Together - A tender and sincere offering may be the strongest track on the disc. Though it falls smack in the middle of the album, it's the perfect song to play at the end of the raod trip as your coming home.
6. Level - The most blues-infused track makes the perfect background music for cruising the main drag of your favorite boulevard.
7. Store Bought Bones - The repetativeness of the song builds to an explosive finale. Listen to the first half of this song going up a hill, then blast the second half coming down.
8. Yellow Sun - A happy light ditty begging to be played on a summer drive.
9. Call It A Day - As the album creeps to the end, so does the tempo. This one is much dreerier than its counterpart at #5. A good song when its late at night and your heading for your hotel after a long day of sight-seeing or gambling. (that's a Vegas road trip reference...come should all get that one)
10. Blue Veins - Jack white takes over this last song to throw-out the white man's imitation of Muddy Waters or Otis Redding. If you're going to listen to this song in the car, do it while the garage is closed and the engine is ruining...

How it compares to the WS...

1. Elephant - A-
2. De Stijl - B+
3. The Raconteurs - B
4. Get Behind Me Satan - B
5. White Blood Cells - B-
6. The White Stripes - D

And for your listening pleasure...

1. Rated X - The White Stripes
2. Lovesick (live at the Forum) - The White Stripes (Bob Dylan cover)

_____________________ - The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Eleven - Best CDs of 2006 so far...

In between reviewing bands, I'm going to try and do quickie music lists to keep the public at large happy. And instead of doing a top ten like everyone else, I'm going to do them one better and do a top eleven. So, before you head out on your 10 hour memorial day drive, here are some CDs you should have in your car to keep you entertained.

The 11 best CDs of far...

1. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am
2. The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth
3. Tool - 10,000 Days
4. Jenny Lewis With the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
5. She Wants Revenge - She Wants Revenge
6. The Editors - The Back Room
7. Morrissey - Ringleaders of the Tormentors
8. Film School - Film School
9. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
10. Tapes N Tapes - The Loon
11. The Streets - The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living

Thursday, May 25, 2006

THE UNKNOWN: Great Lake Swimmers - Bodies and Minds

Most of the time, when we're looking for great new music, we're looking for a band who will come along and knock our socks off. So when a great band comes along that does the exact opposite (no, not put your socks on), it's hard to jump up and get excited. Because all you want to do is sit down and chill out. The band I'm talking about is a group called the Great Lake Swimmers. The GLS have recently built a growing cult following on making some of the best bedtime of the music since early My Morning Jacket...only these guys are from Canada.

2005's "Bodies and Minds" finds The GLS recording in a Toronto-based church. As sounds of their instruments and vocals bounce off the cathedral walls, it creates one of the most haunting yet beautiful album that's been heard since Chet Baker knocked out his own teeth. Bodies and Minds is the kind of music you want to listen to at the end of a long day of work while unwinding with your favorite mixed drink. It's the kind of music that doesn't try to be anything but what it is. It's the kind of music that makes you forget about the B.S. drama of life. It's the kind of music that makes you want to think about nothing else...but the music.

Instead of reviewing each song, I'll write what drink you should have while hearing it.

1. Song for the Angels - Vodka Martini
2. Let's Trade Skins - Salty Dog
3. When It Flows - Suffering Bastard
4. To Leave it Behind - Brandy Sidecar
5. Imaginary Bars - Sex on the Beach
6. I Saw You In The Wild - Godfather Sour
7. Falling Into The Sky - Scotch on the rocks
8. I Could Be Nothing - Rusty Nail
9. Long Into The Evening - Horny Monkey (not that's it matches...I just like the name of the drink)
10. Various Stages - Bellini
11. Bodies And Minds - Mai Tai

Their releases...

1. Bodies and Minds - B+
2. Great Lake Swimmers - B

Take something with you...

1. I Saw You In The Wild
2. Song For The Angels

CD Universe: Greak Lake Swimmers - Bodies and Minds

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

THE BAD: Angels & Airwaves - We Don't Need To Whisper

Sorry for the delay in posting some new stuff. I went to SF this weekend to run in the epic Bay-To-Breakers race. I finished 4200th!!! I rule. Anyway, onto the music.

In the late 90s, music hit one of its lowest points to date. Bands like Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, Britney Spears, Nsync, and the Backass Boys dominated the radio, making it practically unlistenable to anyone who wasn't still worrying about their acne clashing with their school attire. Outside of "OK Computer" and a mediocre Beck album in "Midnight Vultures" the second half of the 90s was a mere waiting game for audiophiles to find something to get excited about again. Because of this vacancy of good music in an ocean of banal radio tunes, mediocre bands found their way into rock history books when normally they would be one-hit wonders at best. One of these bands was the "not an emo band" Blink-182. In the 90s, emo bands wanted to be The Pixies or Fugazi...Blink was a Green Day knock-off at best.

Now some of Blink's stuff was decent. Listenable at worst. Even their last offering demanded if anything...respect. The band hung in there despite being ridiculed by critics to stick around for almost a decade and end their careers on a high note. But now they've gone solo. Will the some parts equal the whole? Well, if this first offering by A&A (Tom DeLonge's solo project) is any indication, we might as well start praying for the Blink-182 reunion.

The album is a concept album...without a concept. A broad scoping epic...without any scope. It's one song repeated ten times...over and over. Just with different lyrics. Now that's song isn't that bad. But it's not a song I want to listen to ten times in row.

We Don't Need To Whisper...

1. Valkyrie Missile - Not Blink-182
2. Distraction - Not Blink-182
3. Do It For Me Now - Not Blink-182
4. The Adventure - Kinda sounds like Blink-182
5. A Little's Enough - Not Blink-182
6. The War - Not Blink-182
7. The Gift - Not Blink-182
8. It Hurts - Not Blink-182
9. Good Day - Not Blink-182
10. Start Machine - Not Blink-182

Here's how it compares to other Tom releases...

1. Blink-182 - Blink-182 - B+
2. Blink-182 - Enema of the State - B
3. Boxcar Racer - Boxcar Racer - B-
4. Blink-182 - Take Off Your Pants and Jacket - C+
5. Blink-182 - Dude Ranch - C
6. Angels & Airwaves - We Don't Need To Whisper - C-
7. Blink-182 - Chesire Cat - D+
8. Blink-182 - Buddha - D

Some musical thoughts to take with you...

1. Dead Man's Curve - Tom and Mark (Jan and Dean cover)
2. No, It Isn't - Plus 44 demo (Mark Hoppus' band)
3. Another Girl, Another Planet - The Replacements (Blink covered this song)

Tower Records Online: Angels and Airwaves - We Don't Need To Whisper

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

THE GOOD: Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy

In September of 1991, thousands of us waited in line outside record stores to purchase the follow-up to Guns N' Roses hard rock opus, "Appetite For Destruction." It was on this night that history was made. "Use Your Illusion I & II" became the first midnight release of any sort of any entity. This began a trend that dominated new music releases for most of the 90s and has since spilled over into DVDs (Star Wars) and even book (Harry Potter) releases. But this wasn't all. The release of the album marked the last time GNR fans would hear an original album from the band that decade. And the decade had only begun. Sure we were given a cover album and a live album but the closest token we were given was the single new song "Oh My God." And that was cryptic at best...and now, it's over 7-years-old.

Since their last release, GNR has lost their guitar virtuoso in Slash, their 2nd drummer Matt Sorum, and their stalwart bassist, Duff McKagan. Oddly, besides Axl, the only other semi-original member is Dizzy Reed, the keyboardist, who was brought in for Use Your Illusion over 15 years ago. So what has the band been doing for the past 15 years? And does a band that has one original member deserve to keep the same moniker? It's kind of like if Paul McCartney had kept the name The Beatles when he formed Wings.

We can argue semantics until we're blue in the face but that's not why we're here today. We're here because it seems like a new Axl Rose Band...I mean , Guns N' Roses album is finally about to emerge. The internet has been flooded with leaks in the past few months. Coincidentally, this has happened only a few weeks prior to GNR's first tour in 4 years. Now we all know despite Axl's Howard Hughes like actions, he's a very smart guy when it comes to the ways of the world. Especially, the media world. Would it be surprising if he had leaked the material on purpose? It would make sense and would be the perfect situation. He could gage fan reaction by scouring the online message boards. If the reaction is positive then he knows he's onto something. If it's negative, he can just dismiss the tracks as "working demos" and go back to the studio to fix them up...or dismiss them all together. Look at how they came out. First There Was A Time and IRS. The buzz was pretty solid. Then, Better comes out, receiving the best reaction yet. So we get another track Catcher in the Rye but the reaction this time is lukewarm at best...and all of a sudden, the leaks stop, even though we were told there were two more songs out there that never emerged. Why? What happened? I can't imagine that the original leaker grew a conscious and stopped leaking the material.

Now I haven't heard the official album. All I've heard are the leaked tracks alongside the live tracks from a few years ago. *And this was played on a boombox in a coffee shop by someone I don't know. * So I'm giving a bit of room to the poor sounding demos and booted live tracks.

For the most part, the songs sound much more like Axl's songs from the Use Your Illusion years but far darker, though there are some steps into the light. He seems to be pushing the envelope in many ways not resorting to throwing out 12 ABAB pop songs like 99% of the musical artists out there. Maybe it takes 15 years to reinvent 50 years of pop radio. Of course, only someone like Axl Rose would actually attempt to do something about it.

1. Oh My God - At first listen, I hated this song. A jumbled mess of NIN influenced nonsense. But after a few listens, I realized, I couldn't have been more wrong. I wanted a straight forward rock song but Axl gave me a textured, structure-bending industrial sounding ditty, layered with off tempo angst. The song is seven years old and becomes more relevent with each passing day. Axl was just ahead of his time. (Double Talkin' Jive mixed in a blender with NIN's Perfect Drug)
2. Bettter - The tender opening brings back the closing of Estranged (intentionally done?) and it's broken up with the ferocious chorus ladened with Buckethead's guitar frenzy. (Estranged with My Michelle's chorus)
3. There Was A Time (T.W.A.T.) - Probably the best of the new tracks. It's the only one to return to the soaring melodies heard on previous GNR releases. Axl's voice sounds great over the finale. (Take the music from 2nd half of November Rain mix in Axl's Sweet Child vocals)
4. I.R.S. - Not as melodic as something from Appetite but it pulls in the same energy, coming off much darker and bleaker. (Think the "You know where you are" part of Welcome to the Jungle with a bit of Black Leather thrown in for taste)
5. Catcher in the Rye - How come every song that has a "Na-Na, Na-Na" part sounds like it has to be on AM Radio? (So Fine)
6. Madagascar - Played from about 90 seconds on the MTV awards, a sweeping ballad in the Axl Rose vein. (Don't Cry with a broader scope)
7. The Blues - Another song with light melodic fare like Catcher. Heel-tapping time. (Yesterdays 2006)
8. Chinese Democracy - This is the first song that could have been on Appetite. Fierce, raw, ripping guitar thrusting forth a charged up energy. This might be the closest we ever get to old GNR. Enjoy it while it lasts. (It's So Easy meets Crash Diet - yeah, I went there)
9. Rhiad and the Bedouins - A very distorted live track. From what I can tell it has a throbbing rocking thoroughfare with Axl's howl leading the way and a mellow chorus that gives the listener a second to breath before erupting again. (Elements of Pretty Tied Up and Big Dumb Sex)
10. Silkworms - Hopefully this song is a throw-away. (think My World but longer)

How it compares...

1. Appetite For Destruction - A
2. Lies - A-
3. Use Your Illusion II - B
4. Chinese Democracy - B (based on "the potential" of what's been heard)
5. Live Like A Suicide - B-
6. Use Your Illusion I - C
7. Spaghetti Incident - C-

Here are some solo Axl tracks since...this really is a solo album...

1. Under My Wheels - Axl Rose and Alice Cooper
2. I Did You No Wrong - Steve Jones and Axl Rose
3. Free Fallin' - Tom Petty and Axl Rose (live from MTV)


AMAZON: Guns N' Rose - Greatest Hits

Saturday, May 13, 2006

THE UNKNOWN: Triple Fast Action - Broadcaster

One of the great tragedies of modern corporate music is the lack of love of music. Back in the 60s and 70s, the music industry loved their bands because of the music they made. Since the 80s, the music industry loves bands just because they make music. It's a business. Bands are commodities to sell and trade. There is no love for good music, just good sales numbers. Label reps went from being people who were audiophiles and could quote from Chocolate Watchband b-sides to kids who were excited that they could tell thier friends they were at a party where they saw Kip Winger talking to Scott Stapp.

Nirvana was an anomoly. Don't get me wrong. I love the band. But the fact that they did what they did during a time when Cherry Pie and Michael Jackson ruled the airwaves could and probably will never be repeated. As great as Nirvana's influence is on music, their coming was also a harbinger of misfortune. Label reps will tell you one thing: "They know what sells." Wrong. Label reps know one thing: "They know what sold." Once Nirvana hit, every label rep went out and looked for the next Nirvana. Instead we were given Candlebox, Collective Soul, 4 Non-Blondes, Silverchair, and Sponge. These were the first cycle.

Once Cobain died, the search widen. Bands who weren't as polished as those listed begin to get gigs at bigger labels. The problem: they weren't Nirvana. That doesn't mean they weren't good. They just didn't have that endearing radio presence desired. These included indie darlings Swell, Failure, and Elliott Smith's Heatmiser. But one of the most interesting bands of this "post-grunge" genre was Triple Fast Action.

I worked at a radio station back in 1996 when their first album came out on Capitol. The label hailed them as the second coming of Nirvana. That's a heavy tag to live up to. And after one listen, Nirvana they weren't and music directors tossed them aside. Capitol's fault was the sales pitch because TFA was actually very good in their own right. If Nirvana and Green day had a kid, it would be TFA.

Listening to their first album (10 -years-old now) I might as well be listening to MTV's next sceamo/emo band. See, TFA was the band that helped originate the "Fall Out Boy-Dashboard Confessional-Saves The Day" sound. Don't believe me? After the band broke up, singer Wes Kidd went on to produce albums for Jimmy Eat World. They were a great band lost to the corporate machine. Let's hope one day they get their due.


1. Aerosmith - Don't worry, this song is only an intro...okay to skip.
2. Anna (Get Your Gun) - This song could have opened the album, matching the energy and intensity of Cobain's angriest. Think Teen Spirit meets American Idiot.
3. Revved Up - The song guises itself as a mid-tempo song with a nasty hook but the spiteful lyrics stand up and roar as load as anything Chester Bennington has to say. Think Even Flow meets Dammit.
4. Bird Again - Lighter fare still finds a way to tear a hole in your earphone. Think I Alone meets Dance, Dance.
5. [Untitled] - A intermission can skip this one , too.
6. Don't Tell - The band's attempt at a slow song is anything but when 90 seconds from the end it erupts in a guitar flurry that would make Neil Young proud. Plush meets Hands Out.
7. American City World - Bubbling with the start-stops that made grunge, it evolves into the swing that emo loves. Would? meets The Middle.
8. Cheery - Patterned in the typical verse chorus verse it relies too much on the structure and not enough on the band's song making qualities. One of the few missteps on the album. The Sweater Song meets Helena.
9. Rest My Head - A great driving song that sucks you in by creating a relaxed environment before knocking you out with its head bobbing beat. Fell On Black Days meets Ocean Ave.
10. Never Ever Care - And don't think these guys don't know how to write a straight-up rock song. This Is A Call meets I Write Songs Not Tragedies.
11. Sally Tree - Feel good hit of the summer of 1996. Santa Monica meets Spitting Games.
12. Paris - The perfect song to listen to in car when dropping off your friends after an allnight party. Doll Parts meets Soul Meets Body.
13. Superstar - Combine every gurnge band I just mentioned with every emo band I followed with...then go on for a ten minute jam.

Their releases:

1. Broadcaster - A-
2. Cattlemen Don't - B


1. Anna (Get Your Gun)
2. American City World
Amazon:Triple Fast Action - Broadcaster

Friday, May 12, 2006

THE GOOD: Tool - 10,000 Days

The release of a Tool album is an event unto itself. The band surfaces once every five years to deliver not just another album of radio hits but instead a piece of richly textured sonic art. (If you ignore their early EP Opiate) Even the album Undertow has its own story to it, poignantly woven all the way to its 69th track. Their second full length album, 1996's Aenima, was a musical force, so powerful, it imbedded itself into the top ten of many "Best of the 90s" album charts. The album was a landscape with hills, valleys, rivers, waterfalls that included their weather conditions like hurricanes, avalanches and snowstorms. And if that wasn't daring enough, they even threw in a recipe for cookies in German. In the minds of many hard rock and alternative rock fans, Tool had filled a void of intelligent hard rock left empty by its last resident in Nirvana. Though the two bands were vastly different in their sound, their attitude of thumbing their noses at traditional radio jingles made them that much more appealing.

But after Aenima, we had to wait. We were given an appetizer in a live release, Salival, highlighted by a tortured version of Zeppelin's "No Quarter," but if anything, this didn't satisfy us and only made us hungry for more music. Finally, in 2001, we received Lateralus, not with a bang but with a whimper. Compared to other hard rock albums it was brilliant but following in the footsteps of their last release, it was more of a step down. It didn't have the energy, the originality, or the depth of Aenima. In fact, many felt the album was a throwaway and turned their hopes to A Perfect Circle.

It wasn't until the release of 10,000 Days, that one can look back at Lateralus and finally understand it. Tool albums are not meant to be compared to each other like Bob Dylan or Pixies albums. Each Tool album is its own universe. And the universe is vast. It can't be explored with one trip around the block. It takes dozens of rotations before you can see the whole piece. Why do you think these things take 5 years to make? Lateralus was its own journey into a musical tapestry that wasn't as loud and as fierce as its predecessor. It wasn't lesser, it was just different.

But now 10,000 Days is here. And many of Tool's hard rock fans are sighing with satisfaction because the album reintroduces many of the band's signature metal hooks. Don't get me wrong, it's still not Aenima but then again, it's pretty much a forgone conclusion nothing ever will be. That said, it's more alive than Lateralus. It's more daring but more safe. It's more charged but also more sullen. It has more energy but at the same time more melancholy. The album is its own beast. But more than anything it's a Tool album.

1. Vicarious - The best Tool song in ten years that hits the radio with a 7-minute sonic boom.
2. Jambi - A second 7-minute song with an equal magnitude of musical force. Even if the rest of the album is nothing but chanting, I'll still be happy.
3. Wings For Marie (Part 1) - More of a soft spoken intro to the next song (even though this one is over 6 minutes) its peaceful calm provides the perfect breath before moving on.
4. 10,000 Days (Wings Part 2) - In many ways, this song reminds me of the voyage we took on the song Pushit but many ways this song surpasses it with more beautiful imagery and stronger outbursts. This is pure Tool.
5. The Pot - Enough with the soft stuff. Here's Hooker With A Penis '06.
6. Lipan Conjuring - You know I was just kidding about the chanting thing...seriously.
7. Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann) - For some reason Tool loves to throw in skits that are, well, let's just say...plain weird. Although, more Bill Hicks routines would be welcome.
8. Rosetta Stoned - If you can get past Maynard doing his satanic auctioneer imitation, the rest of the song plows forward with plenty of pulse to revive anyone who slept through the last two songs.
9. Intension - If Air Supply and Tool had a kid, it would sound like this song. Okay that's a bit of a stretch but you get my point...right? Right?
10. Right In Two - Maynard's war protest song uses imagery of evolution as the song evolves on its own pace. Slowly the song builds to an epic flurry of emotions in an outburst that punches the end of the album with a solid exclamation point.
11. Vigniti Tres - The last song is an instrumental that is here more as a warm down. Kind like
at the end of a marathon, where you need to walk around a bit to avoid any cramps.

How does the new album compare?

1. Aenima - A
2. 10,000 Days - B+
3. Salival - B
4. Lateralus - B
5. Undertow - B-
6. Opiate - D

Here are a few Tool gems from the past. I apologize for some of the poor sounding quality on the live songs. Their bootlegs...what are you going to do?

1. Dr. Love - Tool and Faith No More
2. Demon Chaser - Tool (live 98)
3. Silly Love Songs - The Replicants & Maynard (Wings cover)
--------------------- - 10,000 Days

Friday, May 05, 2006

THE BAD: Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam

Back in the Fall of 1993, Pearl Jam graced the cover of Time magazine, ushering in a new wave of rock music for the masses. Alongside Pacific Northwest brethern, Nirvana, they took the world by storm. And beside bringing great powerful 70s rock energy that had been missing from the radio scene in over a decade, they returned to giving the fans a little something back: they included them. Say what you will about these grungsters but when everyone else was falling in line with Ticketbastard's excessive service charges, they were the only ones to fight court! They were the first to "officially" allow bootlegs of their concerts and fully supported file trading while others were suing their fans.

But jump forward 15 years, Pearl Jam is the last grunge band still pumping out music (Mudhoney, too, but not as visible). This week they released their 8th studio album if you don't count Lost Dogs. It has received great reviews from everyone. But being a Pearl Jam fan through the Binaural and Riot Act years, it seems like critics just forgot about them and are now rediscovering the band. Because this album is no Vs. It's no Vitalogy. If anything it's not their worst effort but it falls safely in the middle. The weird thing is Eddie Vedder has gone away from the voice that made him a household name. It's as if Grammy cursed him when they awarded the band for "Spin The Black Circle" because since then, Eddie seems to prefer his off pitch scream to his sinister howl heard on Alive, Black, Jeremy, and hundreds of others. It's not bad on one or two songs but a whole album with that sound...well, you be the judge. The music is some of the tightest in a decade but the vocals get tedious...sometimes.

1. Life Wasted - Spin The Black Circle meets Leaving Here - been there heard that...
2. World Wide Suicide - I feel like I've heard this song ten seconds ago
3. Comatose - Third time is the...same. They tried this on Binarual. Start the album with three identical sounding songs. Who do they think they are? Bad Religion?
4. Severed Hand - Using a Smells Like Teen Spirit riff, they punch out one of the gems on the disc. I could see this being a b-side on Vitalogy or an album track on No Code.
5. Marker In The Sand - Reminds of the song Smile...just not as good.
6. Parachutes - A remake of the song All Those Yesterdays. What? It's not a remake? Oh, nevermind.
7. Unemployable - The second decent track of the album. but don't get excited, 10 years ago, this would have been a B-side.
8. Big Wave - Another surfing song. Better than Gremmie Out Of Control but that's not saying much.
9. Gone - Holy crap, a song where Eddie isn't screaming. I'm going to savor this moment and listen to this song twice.
10. Wasted Reprise - In case, after hearing this song three times to start off the album, you already forgot it, they included it one more time.
11. Army Reserve - Remember that song No Way? Yeah, neither do I.
12. Come Back - Finally, Eddie doing what he's best at. Think Garden infused with some down home Gospel.
13. Inside Job - At first you think the band is following with their roots delivering a mellow finale like Immortality or Indifference, but the song explodes at the end...just begging to be played as an encore at an upcoming concert.

1. Ten - A
2. Vs. - A-
3. Vitology - B+
4. Riot Act - B
5. Binaural - B-
6. Pearl Jam - C+
7. No Code - C
8. Yield - C-

Here are some rare tracks by PJ and Eddie. Featuring a demo outake from X tribute album (Poor Girl), the band's first b-side, a Tom Petty cover, a Ramones cover, and the unaired Neil Young cover from MTV unplugged.

1. Poor Girl by Eddie Vedder and the Supersuckers
2. I've Got A Feeling by Pearl Jam (bside)
3. The KKK Took My Baby Away by Pearl Jam and Johnny Ramone (live)
4. Rockin' In The Free World by Pearl Jam (MTV Unplugged)
--------------------- Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam